Would You Drink Synthetic Milk?

Vegan scientists in San Francisco (of course) have built a startup (of course) to make synthetic dairy milk. I’m intrigued!

The synthetic milk would be created by inserting DNA sequences from cows into yeast, from which milk proteins could then be extracted. Fat would be taken from vegetable sources, and vitamins, minerals, and sugars would be added, with the end goal of creating a milk that has the same texture and flavor as dairy milk. The synthetic burger didn’t quite match up to the taste and flavor of organic beef, so I’m not holding my breath on the first few tries.

Wide, affordable availability of synthetic milk could have some pretty tremendous positive effects, including the end goal the scientists are after, which is eliminating the inhumane treatment of dairy cattle. Beyond animal rights, however, there’s the fact that it takes 30 gallons of water to produce one glass of milk — or, specifically, 638 gallons of water to produce the six pounds of alfalfa hay it takes to feed one cow adequately to produce one gallon of milk — and California is in the middle of a drought that’s taken 2.2 billion dollars to try to cope with and cost 17,000 jobs in the state. So yeah: synthetic milk could be extremely helpful to the environment, regardless of when it comes to the market, if it ever does.

But it’s that “wide, affordable” thing that’s the hurdle: The synthetic milk hasn’t been produced yet, and it’s going to take a lot of time. Once the process is nailed there’s still the issue of creating adequate facilities to produce it cheaply, not to mention consumer demand — which will be especially difficult given the natural food and anti-GMO trend. Not to say that this is a GMO, but there are plenty of people who are anti-GMO who don’t understand what GMOs are and are just riding the trend because they think they should.

With adequate investment from people who believe that saving the environment is good for the economy, maybe it’ll happen. Fingers crossed! Would you drink it?

[International Business Times]
[Mother Jones]
[Business Insider]
[Huffington Post]

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