On Nov. 14 in Sharm El-Sheikh, representatives from nine countries sat down to dinner. It was the start of the second week of COP27, but this was no panel discussion or debate over loss and damage. The dinner, hosted by the government of Singapore alongside alternative-protein advocates, was instead a celebration of the main dish: cultivated chicken, or meat grown from animal cells in a bioreactor.
At the moment, Singapore is the only place in the world that permits the commercial sale of cultivated protein, also known as lab-grown meat, cultured meat or cell-based meat. But chicken isn’t its only focus. As climate change threatens global marine ecosystems, the city-state is also leading a charge to allow, regulate, and ultimately normalize the commercial sale of cultivated seafood. Singapore’s enthusiasm, driven by the local diet and its own reliance on food imports, is matched by that of dozens of startups around the world, all of which are exploring ways to grow cell-based oysters, lobsters, and other marine species in laboratory settings — and figuring out how to get consumers interested in eating them.