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IPFS News Link • Food

What do you get if you cross a pig with a soybean?


Piggy Sooy was announced by startup Moolec in June of last year, as part of its "Meat Replacement Program." Like most other companies in the "foods of the future" or "alternative protein" space, Moolec want to displace traditional meat products from the market. With Piggy Sooy, the target is sausage and burger meats in particular. Using gene-editing techniques, Moolec claim to have increased the protein content of soybeans by getting them to grow porcine myoglobin--pig protein--inside them. These patented soybeans are a genuine transgenic product: part plant, part animal. Other similar products, like so-called "beef rice," which also recently made the news, are different in one important respect. With beef rice, scientists haven't crossed cows with rice; they've used the physical structure of rice grains as scaffolding for the artificial growth of beef cells. There's no exchange of genetic material, though there's likely to be genetic engineering involved at some level, probably with the beef cells (growing meat in a lab involves special kinds of cells called "immortalized cell lines" that are made to replicate endlessly, like cancer, usually through the use of radiation or genetic engineering). With beef rice you get a hybrid product, mixing the nutritional profile of rice, mainly carbohydrates, with that of beef, mainly protein and also fat, but you've not got a new organism. Moolec have gone one step further by incorporating pig genes into soybeans. The company never wastes an opportunity to tell us that the beans themselves even have a pink hue. How cute! All that's missing is a curly little tail and an oink. Piggy Sooy has now been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Moolec can plant and transport its porky beans without any kind of permit. Before the approval was issued last month, Moolec's stock had sunk from a high of $20 per share in January 2023 to $1.15, but then it rallied significantly, more than doubling in a single day.

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