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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Key components in dairy products can be made in a lab with a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional dairy products, according to an analysis by lab-made dairy startup Perfect Day.

Why it matters: Cows — and the methane they produce — are a major contributor to the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the dairy sector.

  • Taking them out of the equation could be a net environmental positive.
  • Alternative methods that use fermentation to produce dairy proteins could significantly cut the environmental cost of milk, cheese and ice cream.

By the numbers: In a study released first to Axios, independent researchers tapped by Perfect Day found the company's process produced more than 90% less greenhouse gases, required 20% to 60% less energy, and used more than 96% less water per kilogram of protein produced compared to conventional bovine dairy protein.

  • "This shows that fermentation can unlock a more efficient way to make food that humans have a huge demand for," says Ryan Pandya, co-founder and CEO of Perfect Day.

How it works: Perfect Day adds cow genes to a strain of fungus called Trichoderma reesei, then fuels their growth in fermentation tanks with sugar.

  • The fungi churn out a mix of dairy proteins like casein and whey that are molecularly identical to what's found in cow milk.
  • The company then adds water and plant-based fats to produce dairy products — including a line of ice cream called Brave Robot — that it says has the same taste and nutritional profile of conventional ice cream.

Between the lines: Perfect Day's smaller environmental footprint largely stems from the fact that "the actual biology used in the fermentation process is a lot more efficient" than producing dairy products via cows, says Pandya.

  • "We're not using the inputs of this process to build the body parts of a cow."

Of note: The life cycle analysis was commissioned by Perfect Day, and it wasn't peer-reviewed, though Pandya notes it was reviewed by a panel of three independent outside experts.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Technology

TikTok drives new nostalgia economy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as younger consumers desperately chase slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok's algorithm makes it easy for flashback items to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and eventually on other social networks.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

9 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.