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Synthetic Eggs, Milk & Beef – the “Capital” Tug of War


Touch the Soil News #231

A theme we’ve identified in the past is the over-capitalization of the financial markets. Said in another way, there are more dollars looking for an investment return than there are investment opportunities. This over-abundance of investment capital is fueled by dollars flowing into pension plans, investment channels and the resurgence of bank growth.

When dollars are competing heavily for investments with “profit” potential, we can almost count on economic cannibalism. An investment dollar cares not if its end product or service displaces an existing product or service. The moral of the story is that new investment dollars often look to shove old investment dollars out of the lunch line. So if there are large economic segments with significant cash flow to tap into, you can be assured that new investment dollars are going to enter into a tug of war as to who gets the market dollars.

Billions of new investment dollars are bullish - even if it means undermining others' investments

Wall Street Bull

Case in point is the increasing flow of investment and venture capital into new food technologies looking to dislodge current farming models . Think of the profit potential if you could displace cattle ranching, dairy cows and chickens and eggs.

Following are but a few brief bits about just this type of displacement. It’s called synthetic biology.  Synthetic biology promoters have a portfolio of reasons why their alternative products are better – and perhaps some are. However, behind each new company and new idea are investors with a driving focus on profits. The question for the consumer then becomes one of balancing the value of a product with the historical realities of how investment dollars have a demonstrated capacity to compromise the original vision and ethics.

We can’t stop food change, but we can’t ignore the impact of the back-room drivers.


  1. While its processes have not been disclosed, Clara Foods of San Francisco is working to create a Vegan egg white that takes the chicken totally out of the equation.
  2. Maastricht University Professor Mark Post is developing methods to grow meat in the laboratory using stem cells from cows. Stem cells are fed in a test tube allowing muscle cells to grow out.
  3. Beyond Meat – is an emerging company that is producing beef and chicken from vegetable proteins in new ways. Not perfect, but strikingly similar to real meat. The product is so convincing that it has received the backing of Bill Gates (Microsoft billionaire).
  4. Counter Culture Labs in Oakland, California is working to make milk and cheese without the cows. Calling themselves bio-hackers, they use mail-order DNA and then tricking yeast cells into producing a substance that’s molecularly identical to milk. If successful, they’ll make cheese.


Following is a video clip on Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown:

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