Giuseppe Scionti, an Italian bioengineer and PhD in biomedicine who has worked as assistant professor and researcher at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, in Barcelona, for the last three years, has invented and patented a unique and world-first technology that allows producing plant-based meat products with the same consistency and nutritional properties of animal meat products, using only natural ingredients of non-animal origin, and a 3D printer. This new invention, patented on August 2018, combines tissue engineering and state-of-the-art knowledge in bioprinting with modern gastronomic strategies, creating a unique technology able to generate foods with high protein content and with the characteristic fibrous consistency of meat. The main objective of this novel technology is to produce alternative food to animal meat, to help reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, which represent 14.5% of the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by man.
The latest reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show that the current large-scale livestock breeding is no longer sustainable globally. For example, to get the same amount of calories from food, cattle’s breeding requires seventy times more soil than what would be needed to grow fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, cattle use around 30% of the global arable land, and more than 25% of the world’s fresh water.
Assessing the growth trend of the world population over the next thirty years, we come to the conclusion that if we continue with the current system, in the future there will be little chance of having the resources to distribute food to everyone. It is for these reasons that finding another way of producing healthy and economical food that contains all the fundamental nutrients will help us to better manage our planet’s food resources.
The invention of this new technology will be used not only to create an alternative to animal meat with benefits on the environment, but will contribute to solve the common problem of lack of certain nutrients such as essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins that are needed for a balanced diet.
The goal is to improve the food nutritional content consumed in the rural regions of the planet. In fact, the products obtained by this technology can be pasteurized and packaged, to be stored and transported to inaccessible areas that, due to long journeys, are not suitable for the correct food preservation. Moreover, the on going developments are evaluating the possibility to incorporate specific drugs into food products, in order to help those areas of the world where endemic diseases are present.
The new technology patented by Giuseppe Scionti has the advantage of being able to generate different types of meat, not just hamburgers and meatballs. Moreover, already at this initial stage of development, our novel technology allows producing 100 grams of meat in half an hour, at a current manufacturing cost of 2 euros. For the large-scale production phase, the patent was designed to adapt to an industrial process that allows reducing both the time and the manufacturing cost by about 10 times, compared to current values.