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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

3 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

FTX CEO predicts more U.S. crypto flight

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

FTX doesn't look much like a company valued at $25 billion. Its new headquarters, located in a sleepy part of The Bahamas, is so nondescript as to not even have a sign. But it does expect to soon have neighbors.

Driving the news: Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" to expect "more and more crypto flight from the states" if the U.S. doesn't soon create a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies.

Developed countries reveal $100 billion climate finance plan ahead of COP26

Alok Sharma, head of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, speaks in Paris on Oct. 12. ( Li Yang/China News Service via Getty Images)

After 12 years of fits and starts, industrialized nations on Monday put forward a detailed plan to provide at least $100 billion annually in climate aid to developing countries starting by 2023.

Why it matters: The plan, presented by representatives of Canada and Germany, is aimed at defusing one of the biggest sources of tension at COP26, which is the failure of industrialized nations to follow through on their financial commitments.