Andras Forgacs, co-founder of Modern Meadow, thinks it’s possible.
Troubled by the wastefulness and senseless cruelty that comes with slaughtering animals for meat and leather, Forgacs sought out to find a solution. His game-changing biofabrication technology will soon be used to create replacement organs for people, but could it serve another purpose? Forgacs thinks leather is a good place to start.
He’s not talking the faux pleather that many women view as a fashion faux paus —this is real genuine leather derived from the cell tissue of living and breathing animals, but without the harm.
Essentially, it’s 3D printed leather. Specialists would take cell samples from the animal through a simple biopsy, then isolate the skin cells and multiply them until they expand into billions. Then, they coax the cells to produce collagen. Lastly, they take the cells and collagen and spread it out in sheets, which can be pressed together to create various levels of thickness; eventually you have a wallet, leather bag or knee-high boots. It looks the same, feels the same, and is the same as actual leather.
While it may seem like a crazy proposal, Forgacs argues that what’s crazy is the fact that we currently farm and kill 60 billion land animals a year to feed 7 billion people on this planet. By 2050, we will slaughter 100 billion animals to keep up with a growing population of 10 billion.
This is a solution we will root for.
Check out his talk here.
Carly Harrill is a writer, healthy lifestyle advocate and co-founder of Healthy Bitch Daily. Follow her on Twitter at @carlyharrill or visit her blog.