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In his biofabrication talk, Andras Forgacs explains the science behind creating leather and food in a lab and its societal implications. Currently, Earth has a global herd of 60 billion land animals for our food and leather product needs. By 2050, it is estimated that this herd will expand to 100 billion—almost double its size. This is dangerous not only to our environment, but also to public health and food security. This is not ideal for humane reasons, as large groupings of animals can result in disease and provide opportunities for animal abuse.
This biofabrication talk teaches about the use of cells to grow biological products. This is already common practice in the medical field, where tissue and organs like skin are replicated. This same technology can be used humanely and sustainably, and is easily scalable to other industries like food and leather production.
Forgacs considers leather a “gate-way” item, as people are more comfortable wearing a novelty item rather than ingesting it. Biofabricated leather can have all the same characteristics of true leather, since it’s made of the same cells. It’s possible not only to mimic natural products, but to improve upon them and make them more customizable to fit human needs.
Furthermore, biofabrication is eco-friendly, efficient, humane and allows for endless creativity.