In recent times we have seen the launch of protein products derived from chickpeas, watermelon seeds, cranberries, seaweed, and even insects and crickets. Now the Silicon Valley start-up NovoNutrients are creating food-grade protein… from industrial waste carbon dioxide emissions.
While it makes for an interesting headline, the concept of producing food from CO₂ emissions actually targets one of the biggest issues we are currently facing. The International Panel on Climate Change has stated that humanity has until approx. 2030 to change our relationship with the planet and improve the current trajectory of climate change – or else we risk losing the battle.
Through industrial biotech and biological innovation, NovoNutrients have come up with an ingenious way to help try and achieve this target. The start-up company wants to establish a circular economy for food, minimising waste by using it as a feedstock. Their technology allows us to take one of the most burdensome waste products (industrial CO₂) and turn it into clean and useful food.
Not only does this process help to improve climate change, it can also be used in the fight to end world hunger. The demand for protein is increasing, with the global consumption of meat-based products expected to double by the time we reach 2050. This rate of increase cannot currently be met and there is a need for more plant-based and non-animal alternatives.
The main product being developed is a range of protein flours, which are 73% protein by weight and can be regarded as ‘complete’ proteins (meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids), but with a much-reduced carbon footprint than conventional meat and fish sources.
NovoNutrients is currently in negotiations with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Japan, where it hopes to gain its first regulatory approval, and is in the process of preparing submission dossiers for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
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