The Bay Area becomes the global hub for faux meat innovation

When Michael Selden and Brian Wyrwas, two biochemists who met at the University of Massachusetts, arrived in San Francisco last month, they not surprisingly found the search for an apartment to be quite difficult.

However, they found it much easier to find their new lab bench in a basement in the SoMa district.

The two originally planned on a university setting to develop a method to culture fish fillets from animal cells. But they realized that they could move a lot faster, and tap into more resources, in the private sector, says Selden. Their fledgling company, Finless Foods, landed an investor in IndieBio, a San Francisco biotech accelerator — and then settled into its lab space beneath IndieBio’s offices.

The current goal of Finless Foods: to produce a simulacrum of bluefin tuna fillet to help relieve the pressure on the prized, but severely overfished, species.

Animals have little to do with the future of meat, milk and eggs, argue Selden and Wyrwas — and similar new companies and their funders. Instead, that future belongs to scientists who can hack yeast cells to produce egg whites, torque plant proteins into musclelike fibers and grow slaughter-free “duck” or “chicken” in factories. [read more]

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