Business Technology

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Bill Gates's latest project: fake chicken

Beyond Meat: Microsoft founder and Twitter executives behind food project

Matthew Sparkes

Published 28/04/2014 | 13:35

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Bill Gates and the founders of Twitter are among the high-profile investors behind a new company aiming to replace meat in our diet with a product made of modified pea proteins.

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Beyond Meat claims that versions of its patented "meat replica" are indistinguishable from chicken and beef in blind taste tests, contain all of the same nutrients as meat and are healthier.

The company says that the product could also help to reduce the effects of climate change, because of the resource-intensive nature of meat farming, and have a positive impact on animal welfare.

It has the target of reducing global meat consumption by a quarter by 2020.

Speaking to the Today show, founder Ethan Brown said: "I sort of bristle at the use of the word 'fake'. I just completely disagree with that. It is an assembly of amino acids, fats and water that is just like what you get out of an animal, so in my view, it is meat.

"It's just very clean, so there's no starch with it, and there's very little fat. It's all protein, so it's been extracted from the pea.

"For me, it's really been about getting the texture right so it's seamless for people. They can put it right in their favorite dish. It's convenient because it's already cooked, so all you have to do is heat it up in a pan with a little bit of oil.''

Bill Gates has invested in the company, as have Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams.

The billionaire Microsoft founder also has a stake in another company, along with Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang, which is working on a plant-based product to replace eggs. Hampton Creek Foods hopes to create an eggless mayonnaise with identical nutrional content to traditional recipes.

Since earning his fortune, Gates has founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund education, health and world population projects around the world. Earlier this year it donated $100,000 to fund scientists working on a thinner, stronger condom using nanoparticle technology.

Researchers say that condoms have been used for around 400 years and are an effective method of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections and preventing pregnancy. But there is a stigma about condoms that they decrease sensation during sex, which scientists hope to solve with nanoparticle technology that will allow them to be made thinner.

The Foundation hopes that improved condom technology could help to limit the spread of HIV in the developing world. More than 33 million people are currently living with the disease, and over 30 million have already died of it since the first cases were discovered in the 1980s.

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