Would vegans eat laboratory grown fish?

In Lübeck, fish is made in the laboratory

Status: 04/26/2021 6:00 a.m.

The Lübeck start-up Bluu Biosciences is working on making fish from the laboratory ready for the market. A sustainable alternative because natural stocks can be conserved in this way.

by Linda Ebener

Overfishing threatens the seas - this warning from scientists and environmentalists around the world is not new. But one possible solution to this problem: fish farming without killing fish. That is exactly what the Lübeck start-up Bluu Biosciences is committed to. The young company wants to use cell cultures to produce sustainable fish.

Principle: multiplication of stem cells

The fish cells are stored in a cool place in transparent plastic boxes. There they should continue to grow and divide in peace.

Bluu Biosciences is the first company in Europe to specialize in the development and manufacture of cell-based fish. "We isolate fish cells from a small biopsy. The fish we use doesn't even have to die for this," explains Sebastian Rakers, co-founder of the company. "We take a small piece of muscle and can use it to isolate what are known as stem cells." For example, stem cells take over repairs in the organism and keep producing new cells. Bluu Biosciences stimulates the stem cells to grow in a bioreactor. In this way, a piece of fish fillet is created, so to speak. Experiments with the meat of salmon, trout or carp have already worked in Lübeck.

Food production should become more sustainable

Researcher Dr. André Schiefler sits in the laboratory and fills liquids with pipettes into small tubes in order to then examine them further.

Sebastian Rakers declared goal is to change today's food production: "We want to bring in a lot more sustainability and produce in cycles. We see a clear advantage in our technology. We no longer have to kill animals to produce food, and we don't have any direct environmental pollution more. " The Lübeck researchers want to create a food prototype by the end of next year at the latest. The first fish fingers from the laboratory could hit the market in 2025.

Feeding the world population needs new strategies

Sebastian Rakers does not expect a taste difference to real fish. After all, the fish grown in the laboratory is still an animal product. A product that is obtained without endangering animal welfare. For Sebastian Rakers this is trend-setting: "We see this as an important alternative to fishing. Nowadays, 60 percent of commercially used fish stocks are fished to the maximum. A higher yield is not possible here - and 30 percent are already overfished. That means, as the world population grows we think about how we want to feed these many people on earth in the future. "

Vegan nutrition is considered to be particularly climate-friendly

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the demand for fish is increasing worldwide. This also increases the problem of ocean overfishing. The Lübeck start-up led by Sebastian Rackers could help limit the problem: "We will not be able to solve this alone, the challenges are too complex for that. I think that must be counteracted in many areas. Our contribution is certainly an important step towards that, but it will not get the problem under control on its own. " For a more climate-friendly diet, vegan fish substitute products made from tofu or seitan are an alternative instead of fish from the laboratory. According to a study by the non-profit climate consultancy CO2 online, a plant-based or vegan diet is actually by far the best for the climate. According to the study, a vegan diet avoids 1010 kilograms of CO2 per capita per year.

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NDR Info | NDR Info Perspectives | 04/26/2021 | 8:50 a.m.