source: Shojin Meat
Unassuming Founder of Shojin Meat and Integriculture Inc, Yuki Hanyu is an Oxford graduate with a Phd in Chemistry specialists in the field of nanofabrication studying the manipulation of atoms and molecules. Having worked as a post-doctoral research staff at Tohoku University, Founder and CEO Hanyu then worked as a research scientist for Systems Laboratory, Toshiba Research and Development Centre, developing battery based electric energy storate as part of the public infrastructures team. The concept of Shojin Meat is to develop large scale cell culture technology that leads to ‘in vitro meat’ and in simple layperson’s term: lab meat.
Here is what I think makes Shojin Meat successful:
Shojin meat is an inter-disciplinary collaborative project for the development of open source DIY cell based meat. The notion of ‘Clean Meat’ comes from the angle of how eating meat is in many ways unsustainable in terms of the land needed to raise animals and how in terms of energy most of direct energy source comes from plants. So the concept of ‘lab meat’ is to extract animal cells and duplicate in the comfort of one’s lab. Founder and CEO Hanyu currently has a call for food science pioneers to focus what they are good at and join them on Slack. The project currently has clusters of inter-disciplinary experts of their fields and members can join.
2. Regenerative medicine to Space farming
Shojin Meat addresses numerous current and future human needs. One of them is regenerative medicine. When we look at Japan’s ageing population it is easy to sense that the future of health care in Japan and the world is going to need more advanced medicines to meet the demands of an ageing population. Shojin meat is looking into this and also space farming. As NewSpace develops and goes from low-earth orbit to deep space, Astronauts and spacefarers are all going to have to eat so conducting research on space farming now is much needed.
3. Citizen Science
Shojin Meat considers their work as citizen science and attempts to engage the public and those interested in large. I think where Shojin Meat succeeds is in making the message of what they do as accessible, such as space farming. The thought that comes to mind is as follows if you can farm on earth, why not farm in space? Not just plants but also meat. Considering that we are unlikely as a planet to be 100% vegetarians and that what Shojin Meat is offering an alternative of ‘homegrown meat’ or be it ‘growing meat in outer space’, the thought of treating this as a citizen science is probably one of the best approaches to take on this project.
4. DIY Biospace
As we engage in discussions of future human space flight, and of living as interplanetary species we have to give some serious consideration of not just how we are going to tackle radiation but clearly what are we going to eat? If anyone has seen the Martian, Shojin Meat gives inspiration to the thought that ultimately we would all be able to have the skills and know-how on how to survive and thrive in space by growing our own vegetables and meat.
5. Leading Ethical discussions
By engaging in homegrown lab meat, Shojin Meat is acutely aware that they are touching on serious ethical issues and are open for such discussion.
Such discussions are important and they have engaged in organisations such as the Center for Applied Philosophy and Ethics at Kyoto University. As we prepare for future human space flight and life as interplanetary species, currently at this point the Moon, there is much society discussion that needs to be had. Taking me back to the discussions at the International Space University Space Summer School in 2018, such ethical questions are important as it would probably take time to come to some sort of consensus of what is acceptable, what is not, what values would humanity adopt and aspire to when living in outer space.
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Written by Helen Tung
Emergent Tech Advisor/ MINERVA fellow- Space Applications & GNSS, EU – Japan Centre
Creative Convenor, EU-Japan NewSpace2060 Illustrated Haiku Competition 2019
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