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Leather aficionados may soon be left to wonder “where’s the beef?” Modern Meadow, a startup specializing in novel biomaterials, has just secured $10 million in funding to culture leather from petri dishes, not from livestock. A pioneer in the field of lab-synthesized meat, the Brooklyn-based company uses a tissue-engineering technique known as “biofabrication” to grow leather from skin cells, which it obtains through small biopsies that don’t hurt or kill animals, according to CEO Andras Forgacs.

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Livestock farming, of which the leather industry is a beneficiary, is widely known to be one of the leading causes of global warming. A 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that current levels of meat production are responsible for about 14 to 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of human-induced greenhouse gases each year.

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Modern Meadow, says Forgacs, is committed to reducing the global impact of animal husbandry by developing “fundamentally new methods” for growing animal products without hurting animals.

“With the livestock industry being the largest user of land and water and the leading driver of climate change, now is the time to pursue better alternatives,” Forgacs says in a statement. “Our goal is to develop new cultured leather materials with advantages in design, performance, sustainability and animal welfare. In the longer term, we are also developing meat products that are healthier, safer, and don’t require harming animals or the environment.”

+ Press Release

+ Modern Meadow

[Via Wall Street Journal]