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Image courtesy Finless Foods


Cellular Tuna Coming Soon

Finless Foods, one of the leading cellular agriculture companies focused on seafood, announced the closing of a Series B raise of $34 million to expand its operations and produce cell-based tuna this year in the US. The company has now raised a total of $48M.

According to a company press release, some of the money will be used to “finalize the construction of a pilot facility where Finless will produce its first saleable cell-cultured bluefin tuna for market, due to open in the Bay Area this year,” said Michael Selden, CEO and co-founder of Finless Foods.

The Impact of Lab-grown Meats

Tuna fishing is not the heaviest carbon footprint industry, but it is a substantial contributor. The idea of growing tuna in a laboratory using cellular culture (i.e., it’s real tuna DNA) eliminates:

  • Lots and lots and lots of diesel-fueled boat miles: Fishing boats are not exactly fuel efficient, many get 1 or 2 miles per gallon of diesel. They need ice thousands of miles off shore, and to keep it chilled as they put fish catch on it to keep it “fresh,” for potentially months as they cruise the ocean following fish stocks.
  • By-catch: This study found that 7.9 million tons of bycatch, mostly sharks, was killed and discarded by tuna fishing fleets, between 1950 and 2010. Industry awareness and mitigation of bycatch has resulted in some efficiency gains, but it remains a huge problem.
  • Fishing equipment: Google ghost nets and plastic fishing gear pollution and you’ll get the idea. The only thing that can reasonably be used for fishing that withstands the harsh corrosion of the ocean is plastic, and WWF estimates that 10% of the plastic ending up in the ocean is from fishing gear.
  • Transportation and distribution footprints: Think about that fresh tuna you’re eating — how many miles has it come, on fossil-fueled ice, to get to your plate? Think, rather, about lab-grown tuna that is made right there in your own home town, even if you live in an inland location, and shipped just a few miles. The total footprint is astronomically different.

Similar technological shifts have catalyzed new markets, industries, businesses and quality jobs in industries with heavy footprints, and represent a potentially huge shift in our global environmental impact. For instance, the jewelry company Pandora recently announced it will no longer source diamonds from mines that are fraught with conflict (aka blood diamonds). The reason? Because lab-grown diamonds have finally hit the inflection point of good enough quality and low enough price to outcompete the mined diamonds. The footprint of mining, the social impact of poorly run and managed mines, and the continued exploitation of a finite resource are all eliminated as a result, with jobs shifting from poorly paid mining jobs to highly paid lab jobs.

You can expect similar shifts across the agricultural sector, with lab-grown beef eliminating a lot of factory farms, GMO corn and soy grown in many places that should be forest (the Amazon can recover!), methane emissions, food miles, noxious odors, E. coli outbreaks, etc. And…it’ll be fresher meat, since it is made right there in your home town.

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Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.


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