California just made the largest single investment in alternative protein R&D of any U.S. state, and the first-ever state investment in cultivated meat research. There is a lot to celebrate about California’s $5 million investment in alternative protein research. The legislature provided funding for ongoing alternative protein research at three University of California schools—UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UCLA—in a budget bill Governor Gavin Newsom signed on June 30th.
Championed by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), this research will fuel technological progress and scale the alternative protein industry to meet growing demand, creating new green jobs and opportunities that support California’s strong agricultural economy, while helping the state play a greater role in combating climate change.
Of the funds appropriated in this item, $5,000,000 shall be available on a one-time basis for the Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Davis campuses to support research and development of plant-based and cultivated meats.
This historic state budget allocation builds on previous critical investments including a multimillion-dollar investment at UC Davis from the National Science Foundation Growing Convergence program, in addition to previous support from the Good Food Institute and New Harvest.
The Golden State champions the future of alternative protein research and development
While the private sector is doing its part in investing in the development of alternative proteins, public research can help fill key research gaps to accelerate industry innovation and progress. Private sector R&D produces experimentation that is often proprietary and controlled as intellectual property, limiting its benefit. Public R&D can benefit the industry as a whole and on a multi-decade scale, providing the base knowledge required for start-ups to scale up and commercialize in an economically viable way.
Although California leads the United States in R&D funding for innovative technologies such as renewable energy and electric vehicles, the development of alternative proteins represents another emerging industry where the state is well positioned to lead. Home to more than 80 alternative protein companies, California is well poised to secure the state’s lead in this burgeoning sector and set an example for other U.S. states to follow. For the same reason that governments across the United States fund the science of renewable energy, they should be funding R&D and incentivizing private sector activity in alternative proteins.
By providing California universities resources to advance public knowledge of alternative proteins, we can fuel innovation and enable Californian companies to play a greater role in combating climate change through the production of sustainable proteins. California is the birthplace of alternative proteins thanks to the State’s combination of agriculture and technological innovation, and investing in alternative protein science will secure our lead in this burgeoning field. I am proud to support research that will create jobs for our workers, new revenue streams for our farmers, and economic opportunities for our entrepreneurs in California.Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose)
Meeting California’s climate goals
As we’ve shared before, alternative proteins have the potential to dramatically reduce the environmental impacts and climate footprint of food production and cause up to 92 percent less emissions and use 95 percent less land than conventional meat. With global meat consumption expected to double over the next 30 years, alternative proteins will become increasingly necessary to meet consumer demand without exceeding the planet’s resources.
Support from the alternative protein industry
We are grateful to all the industry partners in the alternative protein sector for supporting these efforts. Fourteen companies signed a letter of support for this budget request, including Abbot’s Butcher, Air Protein, Before the Butcher, Beyond Meat, BlueNalu, Eat Just, Finless Foods, Hooray Foods, Impossible Foods, Mission Barns, Orbillion, SCiFi Foods (formerly Artemys Foods), UPSIDE Foods, and Wildtype. Additionally, Assemblymember Kalra recently toured UPSIDE Foods’ Engineering, Production and Innovation Center (EPIC) along with three other members of the California legislature, to learn more about cultivated meat and the importance of open access research for the cultivated meat field.
UPSIDE Foods applauded the governor and legislature in a recent statement.
“This historic investment in research and development across the University of California system will ensure that California remains a leader in food and innovation. At UPSIDE Foods, we believe strongly in the need for open access research to build a robust cultivated meat ecosystem that benefits all.“UPSIDE FOODS
A solution emerges
Alternative protein production is emerging as a solution to help address the growing global demand for meat. By championing sustainable opportunities to meet this growing demand, California’s investment will support critical research necessary to rapidly scale production, expand menu options, and contribute to a robust, resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural system.
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