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Dutch government to invest €60M in cell-based agriculture sector

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Parliament buildings in The Hague

The Netherlands’ government has set aside €60 million to put towards the development of cell-based agriculture in the country.

This is the highest amount of public funding to has ever been put towards cellular agriculture – the process which cultivates food products like meat and milk from the cells of animals.

It is hoped the public investment will encourage more companies to work in the cell-based foods sector, prompting more collaborations, funding and overall development in the field in The Netherlands.

Funding will go towards developing innovation within the sector, as well as education around cell-based agriculture, societal integration for farmers and consumers, and scale-up facilities that can be open to the public.

The money marks the first step in funding for a larger growth plan which will see between €252 and €382 million invested in cellular agriculture, as part of the country’s National Growth Fund, which intends to bring economic growth to The Netherlands through investments in innovative economic fields.

Injecting money into this field is expected to generate an incremental €10-€14 billion in Dutch GDP growth per year by 2050.

“We are very excited for the visionary leadership the government is demonstrating today,” said Consultant Ira van Eelen on behalf of the Dutch Cellular Agriculture Foundation.“The Netherlands is the ideal place for cellular agriculture to flourish. It has a rich history in laying the global foundations of cellular agriculture. It is the 2nd biggest exporter of traditional agricultural products after the US.

“It is a global powerhouse in alternative protein and food innovation. It has a global frontrunner position in biotechnology. And it was the first country to publicly fund cultivated meat research and present a proof of concept to the world.” 

The funding proposal was developed by the Dutch consortium Cellular Agriculture Netherlands, which is made up of universities, NGOs, value chain partners and start-ups including Unilever, Mosa Meat, Planet, SDG NL, Those Vegan Cowboys, TU Delft, CE Delft, DSM, Wageningen University, RESPECTfarms, KindEarth.Tech, and Meatable.

The consortium said in a statement: “Although the products are not yet on the shelves, the science is promising and the first companies are already active. The committee is pleased with the potential and the parties involved”

The development of animal-based food alternatives through cultivated cells aims to benefit both human health and the environment, the consortium added. They note that producing foods through cell-based agriculture could avoid the production of “~12 Mton CO2-eq. emissions and 100-130 kton ammonia per year in 2050.”

Daan Luining CTO & co-founder of Meatable, and member of the Cellular Agriculture Netherlands consortium, said: “Cultured meat is a fast-growing industry and it’s important to invest and support education and research across all areas from universities to research labs as well as informing the wider population about this dynamic industry”.

“This is an exciting next step in the development of the cellular agriculture ecosystem, supporting this innovative new industry like so many other emerging industries before it, and one that will be beneficial to us all”.

In March 2022, the Dutch House of Representatives approved a new law to legalise the sampling of cultured meats in the country, making the launch of cell-based foods onto the retail market a possibility in the future.

Individual companies working with cell-based foods must still obtain regulatory approval through the European Novel Foods process before they can sell any products.


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