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Company Genetically Engineers Fruit Flies to Be "Biofactories" for Fake Meat Production

Future Fields' EntoEngine insects have serious environmental and ethical downsides. Report by Claire Robinson; technical advice by Dr Michael Antoniou

The biotech company Future Fields has notified the Canadian authorities of its intention to commercialise EntoEngine, a genetically modified fly. The flies are engineered to produce foreign proteins – in this case, growth factors, which are cell signalling molecules that play important roles in cell proliferation and development, for use in what Future Fields calls "cellular agriculture" – what we call lab-grown or fake meat.

The public can comment on the application until 28 January 2023 and we encourage them to do so. In our view, EntoEngine flies poses serious environmental risks in the likely event that they will escape contained conditions.

The details

The company says, "The EntoEngine fly line has been genetically engineered to express a growth factor isolated from cows.... The gene sequence poses no known risks to either humans or animals. Expression of the gene encoding the growth factor is under the control of a gene expression regulator isolated from yeast."