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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Stop the world - fake milk is on the way

For a good reason though. Muufrii (pronounced ‘Moofree’) will provide all the goodness of real milk without any of that pesky cow nonsense.

Image: Shutterstock/Sea Wave

HERE IN IRELAND, we love our milk.

From the cup of tea to the essential cornflakes adornment, we get through a serious amount of the stuff (in 2011 alone we got through 495 million milky litres according to agriculture authority Teagasc, while there’s roughly 17,000 dairy farms operating in Ireland overall).

But would we love our milk quite so much if it didn’t come from a cow? Even if the quality was indistinguishable?

Well, get ready to find out, because Muufri milk is on the way, and there’s nary a bovine to be seen.

The brainchild of two Californian bioengineers Perumal Gandhi and Ryan Pandya, the idea behind Muufri is to create a synthetic milk-variant with all the health and taste benefits of regular milk.

Why do we need this alternative you may ask? Because dairy farming contributes roughly 3% of the harmful greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane etc) that are eating away at the ozone layer is the short answer.

And its something government agencies are starting to take very seriously.

Gandhi told National Geographic that the idea behind Muufrii is to change the world’s diet “from a product that isn’t sustainable to something that is”.

The world will not switch from milk from a cow to the plant-based milks. But if our cow-less milk is identical and priced right, they just might

Both Gandhi and Pandya are vegans who view the livestock industry in all its forms as inhumane.

“Fundamentally, you’re controlling the reproductive system of an animal. It’s incredibly invasive,” Pandya told National Geographic.

So how difficult is it to synthesise milk? Actually, not as difficult as you might think.

Milk is quite a simple substance it seems, with less than 20 components. So it can be artificially made using the same synthetic process used to create insulin for diabetics.

DNA is extracted from dairy cows and inserted into yeast cells which are then grown on an industrial scale at the right temperature.

Well ok, that does sound quite difficult.

shutterstock_169165043 Are these guys' days numbered? Source: Shutterstock/MarclSchauer

On the plus side, because the production process is artificial the bacterial cultures and nutritional values involved can all be tweaked. So the end product may be even healthier than regular milk (and will certainly last longer).

Muufri milk should be on the American market from the middle of 2016. You would imagine if it’s any sort of success, we Irish will be getting it to.

Our enthusiasm may be a little harder to come by though.

Read: Are you a coeliac? This new pill could make eating gluten a piece of cake

Read: Twins? Not quite. But Nasa has found the most Earth-like planet yet

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