NEW ZEALAND – Daisy Lab, an innovative company producing dairy proteins without cows, has received regulatory approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to scale up its production by 500 times.

The Auckland-based company utilizes genetically modified organisms to create milk proteins through a process known as precision fermentation.

Chris Hill, General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms at the EPA noted that the genetic modifications used by Daisy Lab are low-risk and do not pose a threat of producing harmful viruses.

“The kind of genetic modifications they are doing are also low risk; I mean, they’re not producing anything that could mimic a virus or anything like that.”

Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Nikki Freed explained that the company uses genetically modified yeast to produce proteins typically found in cow’s milk, such as whey, casein, and lactoferrin.

“What we’re interested in doing is making proteins that are typically found in cow’s milk but doing that without the cow,” Freed said.

She added that Daisy Lab is set to apply precision fermentation, a process that employs microbes as “factories” to produce specific ingredients with plans to partner with other companies to develop consumer products that will be available on supermarket shelves.

In addition, Freed expressed confidence that Daisy Lab’s operations would not severely disrupt the dairy industry.

She acknowledged the challenges facing traditional dairy farming, such as the limitations on herd growth and land use.

“I think even Fonterra recognises they cannot keep growing their herds. We can’t keep using the land that we have like we’re using right now,” she said.

Fonterra, a major player in the dairy industry, has been researching and investing in precision fermentation since 2018.

The company acknowledged the potential of the technology but highlighted the significant hurdles that must be overcome before lab-grown proteins can be produced at costs comparable to those sourced from milk.

According to Agriculture and trade expert Alan Renwick, the expansion comes at a time when global demand for protein is growing rapidly.

He suggested that while Daisy Lab’s products will initially capture a segment of the expanding market, they could eventually compete directly with traditional dairy products as production scales and costs decrease.

With the EPA’s approval, Daisy Lab is poised to lead the way in developing sustainable, cow-less dairy proteins, potentially transforming the dairy sector while addressing environmental and land-use concerns.

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