Disruptive technologies in agriculture could usher in artificial milk and beef

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Disruptive technologies in agriculture are coming your way very soon. Get ready or join the dinosaurs.

Would you buy artificial milk or beef if the price was right?

United States-based entrepreneur and Stanford University lecturer Tony Seba was in New Zealand on Tuesday for a workshop on disruption technologies, which are new ways of doing things that disrupt or overturn traditional business methods and practices.

He focuses on entrepreneurship, disruption and clean energy, and the exponential technology trends and business model trends leading to the disruption of the world’s major industries, such as energy, transportation, infrastructure, finance, and manufacturing.

Add agriculture to that list too.

Seba said every major industry would be disrupted in the next decade or so. Milk would be disrupted first and then beef, with the only question being how long it would take for new artificial products to become viable in a commercial sense, he said.

Food software work was looking at products like milk, taking them apart in the lab and recreating them artificially, substituting protein in.

“You have cow milk that’s created in the lab.”

Lab created milk would have no bacteria, did not need much land to be produced and could be significantly cheaper to produce, Seba said.

A burger made with lab-beef grown from stem cells would cost about $200,000 at the moment, but the cost curve downwards would be interesting to watch, he said.

Peoples’ responses to disruption were also interesting, ranging from denial to joining in the disruption and funding entrepreneurs, Seba said.

New Zealand response to the changing world had been mixed to date, with a growing entrepreneurial mindset, but shortages of venture capital, he said.

Seba has been responsible for more than two dozen new products and services, many of them disruptive, including Java security, electronic payment technology, sales-force automation, computer-aided software engineering and e-commerce infrastructure.

In New Zealand he is director of a company looking to digitise health and safety reporting.


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