Cows, rejoice! We don’t need your milk anymore!

Together with environmental engineer Perumal Gandhi and CEO of New Harvest Isha Datar, Ryan set out to create “a real dairy product that relies in no way on animal husbandry.” Muufri (pronounced Moo-free, get it?) is not meant to undercut small farmers, rather it serves as a much-needed alternative to industrialized animal farming.

In 2012, 7 billion people needed 60 billion land animals to sustain their lifestyle and diets. In 2050, the expected 10 billion people will need 100 billion land animals for the same reason. Livestock currently occupies 30% of our land and is the number one cause for deforestation. The problem we’re facing is quite clear and Muufri has thought of a clever way to tackle it.

They are brewing milk that has all the healthy components of cow-milk – caseins, whey protein and lactose – tweaked in such a way that it’s fit for human consumption, without ever having to milk a cow. Here’s the science of it:

They insert DNA sequences from cows into yeast cells, which allows them to grow milk protein cultures at the right temperatures and concentrations. After a few days the milk proteins can be harvested. The proteins come from yeast, but the fats come from vegetables and are modified in such a way that they’ll taste and feel like actual milk fats. Later on in the process, minerals like calcium and potassium and different sugars are added in and if done correctly, all the ingredients will beautifully blend together into real cow-free milk.

The “tweaking” is grounds for some discussion because it sounds very GMO-ish and that tends to raise some (legitimate) concerns. However, the usual argument against GMO is that super-crops will take over the world and deplete our soil. Ryan explains that Moofri has essentially crippled the yeast, meaning it can only produce milk proteins and will die within hours after that. Leaving very little time to take over the world.

Muufri is at the forefront of cellular agriculture technology and gaining support throughout the world. Horizon Ventures, a Hong-Kong based investment company known for its investments in “disruption innovations” such as Skype, Siri, Spotify and Facebook, has invested USD 2,000,000.00 in the company.

Muufri has succeeded in creating the first-ever glass of cow-free milk and continues to develop its technology to bring down costs and improve the flavor. Ryan is hopeful the first carton of Muufri milk will hit the shelves by 2017.

Majlie de Puy Kamp

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