Survey of cultured meat-related technology trends and safety of genome-edited foods

Feb 17, 2023

Survey of cultured meat-related technology trends and safety of genome-edited foods

I would like to share with you some information about the materials from the government agencies regarding food tech.

*Patent Application Technology Trend Survey published by the JPO

The JPO has published a survey on patent application technology trends. It is a very comprehensive document, and I used to refer to it often when I was working for patent law firms or companies.

Among these, the 2021 survey on needs-responsive technology trends in the field of chemistry was related to cultured meat-related technology.

The following is a brief summary of the contents of the “Cultured Meat Related Technology” needs-responsive technology trend survey, focusing on trends in patent applications.

  • Patent application trends indicate that the number of applications has been increasing since around 2016
  • The nationalities of applicants are Chinese, U.S., Japanese, Korean, and European, in that order.
  • As for trends in the number of applications filed between countries, applications to other countries are most common in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, in that order, and applications from China to other countries are less common.
  • The top ranking of applicants by the number of applications is China, the U.S., Japan, Korea, and Europe, followed by Israeli nationals and Hong Kong nationals.
  • The top-ranked applicants as Japanese nationals are Terumo Corporation, Tokyo Women’s Medical University Educational Corporation, and Integrative Culture Corporation.
  • Looking at the number of applications by technology category, the increase in the number of applications is particularly marked in the category of animal cell types: cattle, swine, mammals, and others without limitation, followed by birds, fish, and crustaceans, and in the category of muscle cell types: skeletal muscle cells of muscle cells, and among production conditions: those using serum-free or low serum medium and those using tissue culture (such as those using scaffolds) The trend of increase in the number of applications is particularly remarkable in the category
  • Regarding cattle of animal cell types, the number of US-registered cases is high and has been increasing in recent years
  • The number of huamilies of those with tissue culture (e.g., those using scaffolds) is in the order of the U.S., Japan, Europe, and China.
  • Although many applications tend to be filed in China and the US in many technical categories, applications to Japan are the most common in the technical categories of myoblasts of differentiated muscle cells and those using serum-free or low-serum media.
  • Regarding applications for inventions featuring cultured meat, the largest number of applications in most technical categories tend to be filed in the U.S., followed by Europe and China.

Since this field is now seeing rapid technological development and market entry, we can expect to see a variety of developments in patent applications in the future.

*Safety of genome-edited foods

When it comes to food products that incorporate the latest technology, one inevitably becomes concerned about their safety. In particular, when food products such as cultured meat are introduced into the world in a way that was not previously expected, the safety of such food products will be evaluated more strictly.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) has published a pamphlet on genetically modified foods and foods with applied genome editing technology, etc.

genetically modified food

Genome editing technology-applied foods, etc.

Regarding genome editing technology-applied foods, etc., the pamphlet “About Foods Made with New Biotechnologies” is disclosed, and a brief explanation of genome editing technology is given on page 6.

In addition, the procedures for ensuring safety are explained on page 11 and thereafter. The major difference between genome-edited foods and genetically-modified foods, which always go through a safety review, is that genome-edited foods basically only require notification to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. On the other hand, genome-edited food also undergoes a safety review for cases of gene incorporation.
The theory seems to be that conventional mutation and genomic mutation are the same phenomenon and that in the case of genome editing, mutations with unfavorable traits are removed through crossbreeding and selection, so the possibility of adverse health effects is very low (see pamphlet page 10).

Many government documents have clear explanations for the general public, although it is sometimes difficult to find the right documents.