Modern Meadow (what a genius name!) makes leather. It looks the same, feels the same, wears the same, even smells the same, as traditional leather, which is odd, considering it is missing such a huge component of leather: the suffering.
Modern Meadow’s mission is to help meet the increasing global demand for leather items without the cruelty and the environmental toll. Leather stopped being just a by-product of the beef industry long ago: pound for pound, leather can actually be more lucrative than meat, with certain hides fetching hundreds of dollar per square foot — and sales of leather goods are expected to reach $91+ billion in the next four years.
Modern Meadow uses a tissue engineering technique called biofabrication to grow leather from skin cells in trays in a lab. The company is also developing biofabricated meat, fish and poultry from muscle cells. Even the initial cells used to grow leather and meat are obtained from small biopsies that don’t kill, injure or even hurt any animals.
The founders, father and son Gabor and Andras Forgacs, previously founded Organovo, which provides engineered human tissues to drug companies testing new compounds. Other companies are also exploring biofabrication for human health, for example growing tissue “patches” to help heal a heart, lung, liver or bones. Modern Meadow is the only company employing the technology for the manufacture of consumer goods.
Currently it takes Modern Meadow about a month to make a square-foot leather sample that’s fully finished (arguably it takes 2-3 years to obtain the same from a real cow), but the company is working to perfect production of its biofab leather until it is as affordable as traditional leather and hides.
And should anyone still think, somehow, that leather isn’t too bad ….watch the leather segment of the movie “Earthlings”. It’s not long. And then remember that yes, in fact you buying it IS exactly the same as you DOING it.