Father-and-son team, Gabor and Andras Forgacs launched Modern Meadow in 2011. The company is dedicated to growing leather in a petri dish, thereby dodging the need for the cow’s total commitment.
Andras is a former venture capitalist and Gabor is in charge of the University of Missouri’s biological physics lab and Clarkson University’s innovation center. Putting their heads together, the Forgacs’ hope to market the lab-grown leather to consumers. So far, the product looks, feels, and smells just like the genuine bovine article.
Additionally, the tissue-engineering technology holds promise to produce what is inside the leather. Yes, lab-grown meat is on the horizon. Nevertheless, the moment you go from furniture and clothing to foodstuff, the complicating factors increase significantly. Therefore, Modern Meadow may choose to focus on the leather side of things as Ted Greenwald reports (“A Cattle Ranch In a Petri Dish” Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/10/13–6/16/13, pp. 42–43):
“The challenges of growing meat with the right flavor, texture, and aroma in a lab are daunting. Palatability aside, Modern Meadow’s legal advisers are concerned regulation could stall sales of cultured meat for 5 to 10 years. The company is pushing forward with leather. . . . Pound for pound, leather can be more lucrative than meat, with rare hides fetching hundreds of dollars per square foot.” (pp. 42–43)
Ah, well! We thought we would never see the day when “moo” was heard from the petri dish as well as the pasture! So far, no comment from the cows.