Could lab-grown sushi save rapidly declining fish populations?

screenshot our salmon — wildtype
Sushi made with lab-grown salmon. Credit: Wildtype

[A]according to the Global Aquaculture Alliance, 3.1 billion people around the world now rely on fish and seafood for a fifth of their daily animal protein intake. Fish are also one of our only sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

But—spoiler—it turns out there are some serious issues with the seafood industry …. Water temperatures are rising, throwing off marine ecosystems’ natural balance and kicking off negative ripple effects throughout their food chains. Overfishing—when we take fish out of their natural habitat at a rate too fast for them to keep up with in terms of replenishing the supply—has depleted wild populations of halibut, monkfish, tuna, and salmon ….

A San Francisco-based startup called Wildtype is developing a product that could one day help alleviate the problems caused by fish farming …. lab-grown salmon.

Related article:  CRISPR, disease-sensing technologies could yield a 'cornucopia' of healthier, tastier foods

Similar to cultured meat like that made by Memphis Meats, Wildtype’s salmon starts with real animal cells and adds a mixture of nutrients, sugars, salts, amino acids, and growth factor to coax the cells to grow as they naturally would inside an animal’s body. Done right, the process can yield animal tissue that contains muscle, blood, and fat, just like you’d get from a farmed fish. Except in some ways it’s even better, because what you don’t get is mercury, microplastics, and the other contaminants that farmed fish are becoming rife with.

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