Thursday, July 25, 2024

Top 5 This Week

A Multi-Dollar Attempt to Realize the Vision of Sustainable Proteins

The Bezos Center for Sustainable Protein has officially launched at North Carolina State University to lead the research and development for several dietary proteins. This comes after Bezos Earth Fund awarded NC State a grant of $30 million, which will be stretched across a period of five years and will be used to create a biomanufacturing hub for dietary proteins that are environmentally friendly, healthy, tasty, and affordable. Markedly enough, outside of that, the Earth Fund has already committed $100 million to establish a network of open-access research and development centers focused on conceiving sustainable protein alternatives so to significantly expand consumer choices. Anyway, in a more practical sense, th NC State center will engage partners from academia and industry to research, create, and commercialize new technologies, provide training for the emerging industry workforce, and gauge consumers’ protein preferences.

“Food production is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s critical we find ways to feed a growing population without degrading the planet,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “Sustainable protein has tremendous potential but more research is needed to reduce the price and boost the flavor and texture to ensure nutritious, affordable products are available. It’s about choice.”

Serving a massive incentive for biomanufacturing firms to setup their facilities in North Carolina, the Earth Fund will enable NC State University to conduct research on three types of sustainable proteins i.e. plant-based products; precision fermentation to produce proteins, and nutrients that can be used in food formulations; and cultivated meat grown from animal cells. Furthermore, the grant in question will make it possible for the institution to actively collaborate with the likes of N.C. A&T State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Duke University, and Forsyth Tech Community College on the research, workforce development, and community engagement efforts. All in all, more than 20 partners will be a part of the new center, each one expected to be involved in facilitating technology transfer, student internships, and mentorships. This, in turn, should support the preparation of workforce for jobs in advanced food technology, a feat which is largely a by-product of several universities and community colleges’ presence in the mix. On the other hand, industry partnerships will support food production and processing, including small companies and start-ups.

“This is a significant opportunity for North Carolina to not only be a state with a thriving animal-sourced foods sector, but also one where it is a powerhouse in complementary proteins, building new industry and driving economic growth for the state,” said Bill Aimutis, co-principal investigator on the grant and co-director of the new center who has extensive experience working with sustainable protein producers and start-up companies. “With the center, we are looking to develop solutions that will provide greater diversity of choices for consumers that are both tasty and sustainable.”

Making the entire effort even more important would be the significance of protein itself in our lives. You see, if we take protein and its amino acids away from the human body, it will render our organs, cells, and tissues incapable of functioning properly. However, with population rising and our environment deteriorating rather exponentially, there is a pressing need for proteins that are produced in a manner which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protects nature. Fortunately, the new center looks to fill that very need.

The creation of a new dedicated center delivers an interesting follow-up to Bezos Earth Fund’s $1 billion grant commitment towards transforming food and agricultural systems and supporting healthy lives without degrading the planet. This also includes efforts to reduce emissions from livestock.