Cow-free milk now under development

Cow-free milk now under development

/ 03:19 PM June 18, 2024
This represents cow-free milk.
MIT Technology Review reports that various companies are finding ways to create cow-free milk. Stock photo from Pexels

You’ve heard of fat-free milk, but how about cow-free milk? MIT Technology Review reported that various companies are finding ways to create this calcium-rich drink without bovines.

The news outlet said they plan to mix yeasts and plants with cow genes to produce essential milk proteins. Magi Richani, the leader of one of the companies developing this milk substitute, said it could prevent a potential pandemic from animal viruses. 

Cow-free dairy could likewise reduce carbon emissions. Also, it would not require the use of antibiotics that might make their way into human food.

How are companies making cow-free milk?

MIT Technology Review says one of these dairy pioneers is Alpine Bio. It is a San Francisco-based biotech firm that has been engineering soybeans to produce casein.

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CEO Magi Richani admits the product is not yet for sale, but the company is growing beans in USDA-sanctioned test plots in the Midwest.

READ: Bird flu found in cows for the first time

The cow-free milk pioneer said he chose soybeans because of the abundant supply and affordable costs. “We are working with farmers who are already growing soybeans for animal feed,” Richani said. 

Alpine Bio will crush these beans, extract their protein, and sell this ingredient to larger food companies. Richani says cow-free milk is the necessary alternative we need for eco-friendly dairy production. 

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“We need options that are better for the environment, overcome the use of antibiotics, and overcome the disease risk,” she claimed.

READ: South Korea scientists offer ‘beef rice’ as eco-friendly protein

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Remilk is another one of these cow-free milk pioneers. It is an Israeli startup that has engineered yeast so it produces beta-lactoglobulin.

The latter is the main component of whey, an essential part of milk. Co-founder Ori Cohavi says one biotech factory of bubbling yeast vats feeding on sugar could “replace 50,000 to 100,000 cows.” 

Nowadays, Remilk is testing how to produce it with plant oils and sugar to make various dairy products like ice cream and cheese. 

Many may see cow-free milk as unnatural, but Cohavi argues modern cow’s milk is also unnatural. “The notion of a cow standing in some nice green scenery is very far from how we get our milk,” he said.

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“There are hundreds of millions of dairy cows on the planet producing greenhouse waste and using a lot of water and land. It can’t be the best way to produce food.”

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