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What do Bezos, Gates and Branson have in common? An appetite for fungi fake meat

By Monica Athnasious

Jul 5, 2021

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Does anyone else feel like the world is quite literally exploding? Within the past week alone there have been so many climate and weather disasters it’s been hard to keep up. You’d think it couldn’t get worse after seeing an ocean surface on fire but it does. As devastating heatwaves in Canada continue, Cyprus is also experiencing some of its worst fires in decades, people have died due to a landslide in Japan, Cuba is bracing itself for raging hurricane Storm Elsa and Antarctica has reached its highest temperature to date. This has all been reported within the last few days and honestly, it’s depressing.

It’s not rocket science that the climate crisis is quickening at an alarming rate but don’t worry, Jeff Bezos is coming to our rescue. Bezos, along with Bill Gates, are the latest big-time investors of alternative meat and dairy company Nature’s Fynd. Currently based in Chicago, the brand is the latest food-tech startup to develop fake meat and dairy-free products in a bid to reduce the impact animal agriculture has on the planet.

This particular industry is expected to skyrocket in the next few decades, with consulting firm Kearney projecting that alternative animal products will take over 60 per cent of global meat sales by 2040. The billionaires haven’t missed this fact as Nature’s Fynd has managed to raise over $150 million in funding from its investors. Aside from Bezos and Gates, it’s been backed by the likes of—you guessed it—Richard Branson, Al Gore and Michael Bloomberg. This is not a first for Gates, who has invested in other alternative meat brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods in the past. Don’t worry, I’ll get into why they’re all hypocrites, but first, let’s look at the brand that has caught the eye of these finance bros.

 

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Co-founded in 2012 as Sustainable Bioproducts LLC by Thomas Jonas and Mark Kozubal, only to be renamed Nature’s Fynd more recently, the company’s story started with a volcano. It was Kozubal, a PhD student at the time, who, in 2009, discovered a unique microbe dubbed ‘Fusarium strain flavolapis’ while on a NASA-funded research study at Yellowstone National Park’s Supervolcano. The group of scientists were initially studying potential forms of life that could survive extreme environments beyond Earth. It is from this discovered microbe that the company created its lab-grown nutritional fungi protein—Fy. The future of lab-grown meat isn’t just the future anymore, it’s now our present. Let’s break down how it works.

Nature’s Fynd had Hank Green, known for his scientific hot-takes on the internet, break down everything you need to know about fungi, the microbe and the Fy protein. Green explains that “in a straightforward energy efficient technique called liquid-air interface fermentation, the microbe grows in trays with simple sugars, a little bit of nitrogen and the warm acidic water it loves.” Its characteristics means it can be transformed into literally anything—solid, liquid or even powder. The nature of this particular microbe helps avoid some other concerns with lab-grown produce such as hormones, pesticides and GMOs.

“Most other organisms are reasonable and refuse to tolerate these acidic conditions, contamination isn’t much of a concern. And that means that no antibiotics or pesticides are needed to keep any invaders in check. Nature’s Fynd team also spent years learning how to grow the microbe without any hormones or genetic modifications,” Green clarifies. He also explains that they’ll never have to return to Yellowstone again—like a “sourdough starter,” the cultures can be used endlessly to ferment all the protein you’d need. This means it can be grown anywhere, making it available to be grown in the same locations that it would be eaten, and in turn cutting the levels of emissions it would take to transport the product.

Apparently, it gets even better, as the Fy protein is a complete one, meaning it would have a complete balance of amino acids. It is a vegan source of complete protein. I’m no scientist, so I won’t even try to explain the ins and outs of what this means, but have a watch of the video below for a more in-depth understanding.

 

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While Nature’s Fynd looks like a brilliant brand, its backers aren’t exactly the best. Well, actually they’re the worst. Gates’ release of his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster and his investment into fake meat is laughable. How can he be taken seriously when we know that he’s also the biggest private owner of farmland in the US? I won’t even comment on how stupid that is. Moving on to the other billionaire bozo, Bezos himself has also pledged contributions to aid the climate crisis.

The Bezos Earth Fund, where he pledged to donate a current total of $10 billion to environmental causes, was met with criticism after its public announcement last year. While it appears philanthropic, Recode reported that the fund had been previously linked to an LLC named Fellowship Ventures—this means that, unlike a foundation, an LLC is not legally obligated to disclose “any amount of money at a regular clip.” Furthermore, $10 billion is microscopic in comparison to the damage Amazon has had on the planet and we cannot ignore his inability to pay taxes. His latest venture into fake meat is arguably another green-washing way to make money.

The super-rich strike again. As the oceans continue to burn, don’t forget who lit the match.

What do Bezos, Gates and Branson have in common? An appetite for fungi fake meat


By Monica Athnasious

Jul 5, 2021

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Jeff Bezos ex-wife Mackenzie Scott gives 2.7 billion dollars to black education and more

By Jack Ramage

Jun 16, 2021

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Mackenzie Scott, one of the richest women in the world and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has made headlines once again. The billionaire philanthropist and novelist announced on Tuesday 15 June that she had given away a further $2.7 billion to 286 organisations. This is the third round of announcements made by Scott regarding her philanthropy—in 2020, she made two similar surprise announcements and donated around $6 billion to a number of causes, including COVID-19 relief, gender equity, historically black educational institutions, among many more.

Much of Scott’s wealth comes from her 2019 divorce from Bezos, who still remains the world’s richest man. If you missed the news about Bezos flying to space last week, and how you can join him, you can catch up on all you need to know here. Scott still owns 4 per cent shares of multi-national gigantic corporation Amazon, having helped Bezos start the company in the mid-90s. Despite the mammoth size of these donations, she’s still far from being out of pocket. According to Forbes, Scott scores a respectable 22nd richest individual in the world—not bad out of a figure of around 7.6 billion, right?

Mackenzie Scott’s statement

In a recent blog post released on 15 June 2021, Scott said she was keen to redistribute her wealth, having worked with a team of researchers, as well as her new husband, on who to donate to. In the statement, she said, “In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.”

Scott’s new husband, Dan Jewett said in a letter, “In a stroke of happy coincidence, I am married to one of the most generous and kind people I know—and joining her in a commitment to pass on an enormous financial wealth to serve others.”

Jeff Bezos ex-wife Mackenzie Scott gives 2.7 billion dollars to black education and more


By Jack Ramage

Jun 16, 2021

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