The multibillion-dollar global meat manufacturer NH Foods has pledged to stop all animal testing from 2020 onwards.
The company, which is the largest meat supplier in Japan, made the promise after discussions with the animal rights organization PETA. Given that the meat industry is one of the most exploitative industries on the planet in terms of animal welfare, the move from NH Foods is perplexing, but welcomed. As highlighted by PETA, “when animals are treated like laboratory equipment…they’re denied everything that’s natural and important to them.”
One experiment, in particular, prompted PETA’s involvement with the company. In 2016, 20 mice were fed a collagen metabolite (made from chicken feet) under NH Foods instruction; the animals’ blood was taken before they were killed and dissected. In the previous year, Ensuiko Sugar, one of Japan’s oldest sugar suppliers, conducted a similar experiment using 112 mice. Much like NH Foods, the sugar company has agreed to introduce a new policy against animal testing.
NH Foods and Ensuiko Sugar may spare a number of animals from the brutality of scientific experimentation; however, many sentient beings still suffer throughout the food industry, for the purposes of animal agriculture.
Pigs, chickens, cows, and many more animals are factory-farmed in Japan and around the globe, causing suffering both to them and to the environment — one recent study even suggested that animal agriculture now has a worse effect on the planet than oil production. However, the solution could be impending, in the form of clean meat. In June, the Japanese government invested in the Tokyo-based clean meat startup Integriculture as part of a funding round that raised $2.7 million.
Founded by Oxford University graduate Yuki Hanyu, Integriculture aims to “[ensure] food security and [provide] sustainable meat supplies for the rapidly growing demand across the world.” The startup believes
its first clean meat product will be available on the market by 2021, with its first ever prototype ready by the end of this year.
In the U.S., the race to get clean meat to market is storming ahead. Tyson Foods, which like NH Foods is one of the largest meat producers in its home country, is even investing in cultured meat companies. A decision that, according to CEO Tom Hayes, is completely necessary. Speaking to Feedstuffs earlier this year, he said: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?”
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