It sounds like something of an oxymoron, but it’s a startlingly truthful statement. According to Seeker.com, Modern Meadow, a Brooklyn-based startup company, recently received another round of investment funding – reportedly around $40 million – as they continue to develop sustainable leather materials that are essentially real leather, except it’s made without the hide of a cow.
By using living cells that produce collagen and proteins, the startup has had success creating a biologically identical version of leather you would get from a cow’s hide without the actual cow itself. Things like leather briefcases, leather keychains, and leather belts, will be able to be made without any actual animals. Sounds kind of crazy, but it’s backed by science.
“Growing leather without an animal might seem futuristic but at Modern Meadow we?re making it reality,” the company’s website reads. “Biofabrication enables us to grow nature?s materials using living cells instead of animals. “Depending on the desired features, we design and engineer the material to deliver the right structural and aesthetic properties. We then tan and finish it through an efficient, ecologically mindful process to give the material its final character.”
Their site goes on to explain in scientific detail just how the process works, which you can check out here. Basically, they manipulate DNA to manufacture collagen and then put the DNA in cells where it’s multiplied. The end result is a material that’s, well, leather for all intents and purposes. It can be made into leather briefcases, for example. Except for you didn’t have to kill a cow to get it.
Cowhide is typically the thickest leather, ranging between 1-ounce and 12-ounce varieties. According to Chief Creative Officer, Suzanne Lee, the process allows for the material to be tweaked for thickness, flexibility, elasticity, etc.
This process could have a big impact on more than just animal rights though. The meat/leather industry has long been derided for the detrimental effects they can have on the environment and potential breeding ground for “super bacteria.”
“Leather, which represents a $100-billion raw material market, has always been prized for its beauty, functionality and enduring status,” said Modern Meadow chief executive officer and co-founder Andras Forgacs in a press release. “At Modern Meadow, we’re re-imagining this millennia-old material to create revolutionary new features without harming animals or the environment.” References. See this link for more references.
29 Jun 2016