This summer, UK scientists have grown a soybean that contains 26% protein content from pork. The successful growth and harvest of a plant-based protein with animal DNA is a breakthrough in food biotechnology, and these findings are paving the way for future protein projects. Keep reading to learn more and decide if you would ever sample these kinds of products!
Finding innovative ways to grow protein is a booming area in the food and nutrition space.
Moolec Science invented the first soybean product mixed with pork DNA. The inside of the bean has a pinkish hue, similar to the color of raw pork.
There is no evidence to show the safety of consuming these products, and it will be some time before they are available for consumers.
A trending topic in food and nutrition is finding new ways to grow and harvest food. Unfortunately, the available landscape to grow fresh crops is decreasing, soil quality is declining from over-farming, and maintaining healthy livestock is becoming more expensive. However, the global population is growing, and people need to eat. Finding innovative ways to create reliable food systems is a massive area of research in the agriculture and nutrition industries.
One option has been manually growing proteins in a lab using food biotechnology. Scientists have successfully grown animal meat from a petri dish using stem cells and other genetic materials. Different US labs are currently learning to grow beef, poultry, pork, seafood, and exotic meat.
Nutritionally, these foods appear to be on par with natural animal proteins. However, there is understandable pushback from consumers who do not want to eat artificially created food. Soon lab-grown meats will go to market in the US. It will be interesting to see if people buy the product or not.
Recently, a UK-based company named Moolec Science has created a new protein-based GMO crop. Their scientists have grown soybeans that have been mixed with pork proteins. The finished product looks like soybeans with a pinkish hue in the middle.
The company named their new creation Piggy Sooy (patent pending). They have been on a mission to produce animal proteins using plant-based compounds, and this achievement is a big step forward for the biotechnology space.
Due to the competitive nature of the food-agriculture sector, Moolec Science has not released many details about the nutritional composition of their product. However, they did state that their soybean contained 26% pig-based protein (a far higher yield than their original estimation).
This data suggests the genetic combination of pork and soybean is a good match, and splicing the genetic material very early into the seedling's lifespan was a successful strategy.
Moolec Science is currently applying for a patent and is protecting its intellectual property. Therefore the specific nutrients, vitamins, and minerals have not been shared yet
Interest from non-food industries
The food sector isn’t the only industry interested in these protein-based findings. Other key players that could be interested in these findings include pharmaceutical companies, cosmetics, and even medical agents used in diagnostic procedures, such as dyes and imaging.
Learning how to take advantage of mixing proteins could be advantageous for the whole science community.
Pork-soy is not vegetarian-friendly
The language around pork-soy foods is confusing because they label it a plant-based protein. However, it contains pig DNA and is inappropriate for vegetarians or cultures who avoid pig products.
From the limited research found online, the goal of pork-soy technology appears to be to find a way to create animal-based proteins that are sustainable. The soybean is a vessel to carry, and essentially grow, animal proteins.
Pork-soy technology is a type of GMO
For the last 25 years, scientists have spliced genetic material together to create new food sources. These food products are called genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including pork-soy technology. Scientists added pork proteins into the soybean’s DNA to create the pink soybean before planting the crop.
GMOs are not new to Western agriculture. They were created to be more resilient to poor growing conditions, carry more nutrients, and be pest-resistant. Some people avoid consuming GMOs, but the FDA maintains they are safe to consume. Constant research is being done on the safety of GMOs, and the choice to include them or not in your diet is ultimately up to you.
Is it safe to eat pork-soy products?
There isn’t much literature to demonstrate these products' safety. These types of GMOs are simply too new, and any long-term data will not be available for decades. There is also no timeline for releasing pork-soy products to market.
Only you can decide if eating GMO products aligns with your health and nutrition goals. If you have any questions, you can consult a nutrition professional.
- Journal of Animal Science Technology. In-vitro meat: a promising solution for the sustainability of meat sector.
- Cureus. Genetically modified products, perspectives, and challenges.
- Moolec Science. Moolec Science.