Alternativas biotecnológicas a alimentos de origen animal

Rejas Ramos, Alberto (2020). Alternativas biotecnológicas a alimentos de origen animal. Proyecto Fin de Carrera / Trabajo Fin de Grado, E.T.S. de Ingeniería Agronómica, Alimentaria y de Biosistemas (UPM), Madrid.


Title: Alternativas biotecnológicas a alimentos de origen animal
  • Rejas Ramos, Alberto
  • Haro Hidalgo, Rosario
Item Type: Final Project
Degree: Grado en Biotecnología
Date: February 2020
Faculty: E.T.S. de Ingeniería Agronómica, Alimentaria y de Biosistemas (UPM)
Department: Biotecnología - Biología Vegetal
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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According to United Nations, by 2050 world population will have reached 9800 millions of people, which represents an increase of 2200 million compared with the current 7600 millions of people living in the world. This leads to question how to feed this huge increment of inhabitants, that the government, scientific community, and the society in general should start to worry about. One can think that by simply increasing the production it would solve the problem, but is it possible to increase the production with the available natural resources? The answer is simple: if the population reaches 9600 million in 2050, an equivalent of almost three planets will be needed to supply all the natural resources required to maintain the current lifestyle, which has been maintained at the expense of environmental damage and social inequality. Food system requires the 30% of the total global energy and emits around 22% of the total greenhouse gases emissions, but also it doesn’t supply the whole population, as 821 million people suffer from hunger. Under these circumstances it is worth analyzing the impact on the environment of livestock sector: it accounts for the 14,5 % of the total greenhouse emissions, it covers more than the 30% of the world land surface and requires the 8% of the water used in the whole human activity. Not to mention the millions of animals slaughtered every year, and the inefficiency of animal products in comparison with vegetable ones. The aim of this work is to give determine the role that biotechnology can play in the obtaining of a solution more sustainable for foods of animal origin. Specifically, the use of biotechnological techniques in the generation of novel aliments with innovative features that can be more appealing to the consumers will be analyzed. Mainly startups are the ones that are leading the race, and two of them will be the ones selected as a model to explain the sector. This two companies are: Perfect Day, that develops alternatives to dairy products and Impossible Foods that is focused on improving the meat alternatives options. Both companies were selected because they have already products on the market and because the products that they want to substitute are the less sustainable among all livestock products. The main technique that both startups are basing their product on, is fermentation. It is meaning the use of microorganisms for expressing selected proteins of animal origin. In the case of Perfect Day, they are producing the proteins found in milk (caseins and whey proteins) in the fungus Trichoderma, which allows an efficient heterologous expression, that has led to the first product released by the company, animal-free ice-cream. On the other hand, Impossible Foods has developed an alternative to animal meat, with a base of plant proteins but also using fermentation for improving the flavor. They discovered that one hemoglobin is one key protein in meat´s flavor, and that one almost identical plant molecule could be found in soy roots, the leghemoglobin. That way, they produced leghemoglobin by heterologous expression in Pichia pastoris, a yeast widely used like an excellent system for heterologous protein expression in the biotechnological industry. With the leghemoglobin they were able to develop what they called the Impossible Burger, which is a plant-based burger, but different to other related products due to the presence of leghemoglobin, which gives the characteristic meat flavor. These two examples are used to illustrate the process of the creation of new aliments, but they are not the only ones. Different examples are also mentioned, in order to reflect that a new food sector is emerging. This shows that there are innovative ideas in relation with food, which are being applied by new companies, developing a new business network and this is possible because the technological and scientific knowledge is available, as the development of biotechnology continues to increase, but it is also possible because there is an increasing concern about the environment and sustainability among scientific groups but also society in general. As reflected in the companies studied, it is important to consider the social sphere surrounding food, in order to create innovative products but that can be recognizable by the masses and that they would feel comfortable to consume. Here it is where biotechnology plays an important role in creating and mimicking the traditional products, in new ones, more sustainable but with same performance of flavor, texture, appearance… otherwise the public will find it difficult to change the diet. Taking all in consideration, these companies have a high chance to success and grow more in the following years, and they can become the protagonists of a new revolution in the food sector.

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Item ID: 64461
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Deposited by: Biblioteca ETSI Agrónomos
Deposited on: 07 Oct 2020 10:36
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2020 10:36
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