Sunday, June 11, 2023

Lab Made Tomatoes

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science, Agriculture, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

We've heard of lab-made meat - it is real meat - but I'd never heard of any research on the possibility of growing fruit by itself, unattached to plants. A PhD student, Lucas van der Zee at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, taking a cue from research on lab-meat wrote "a master’s thesis on the subject of growing fruits without the plant" worthy enough to lead to testing the idea as a PhD project.  

Ali Francis writing for Bon Appetit has a great article on what moving from the lab to the supermarket entails. The subheading to her essay notes that "The FDA just approved one company’s product—but the answer, like lab-grown meat itself, is complicated." She covers this history from the beginning to the present.

Zee is the featured researcher in an article by James Michael Crow for Where I Work, Nature. You might have already guessed that the subject of his research is the tomato.

Crow's closing paragraph is a description of Zee's thoughtful research agenda. "Some people get excited about the possibilities of my work, but most are hesitant, which I understand. In the past, people have rushed into using food technologies, such as cage-grown chickens and the extensive use of synthetic fertilizer, without considering the potential downsides. An important part of my PhD programme will be to assess the sustainability of my method."

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