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Vow, an Australian cultured meat company, has unveiled a giant meatball made from flesh cultivated using the DNA of an extinct woolly mammoth. The meatball, displayed at Nemo Science Museum in the Netherlands, was made of sheep cells inserted with a singular mammoth gene called myoglobin. The company stated that it wanted to get people talking about cultured meat, which it views as a more sustainable alternative to real meat. The meatball has the aroma of crocodile meat but is currently not for consumption.
Vow’s chief scientific officer, James Ryall, explained that since the mammoth’s DNA sequence obtained by Vow had a few gaps, African elephant DNA was inserted to complete it. However, he stressed that Vow was not creating actual animals, unlike in the movie Jurassic Park. The choice of mammoth DNA was to highlight the animal’s extinction caused by climate change, according to Vow founder Tim Noakesmith.
Unlike creating cultured meat using the blood of a dead calf, Vow used an alternative method, which means no animals were killed in the making of the mammoth meatball. Noakesmith said that the protein in the meatball is 4,000 years old, so the company wants to put it through rigorous tests before bringing it to market. The process of creating cultured meat aims to provide a sustainable alternative to conventional meat production, which has a significant environmental impact.