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Dawn the rescue pig's DNA will be used to grow lab meat

 Dawn, a pig, enjoys her life at Sweet Farm Sanctuary.
Sweet Farm
Sweet Farm
Dawn, a rescued pig, enjoys her life at Sweet Farm.

A rescued pig living at a sanctuary in the Finger Lakes is playing a vital role in the formation of “cultivated meat” — that is, real meat made without animal slaughter.

Dawn, the pig, resides at Sweet Farm in Yates County — the world’s first nonprofit sanctuary to address the impact that factory farming has on climate change.

It was Dawn’s cells that were donated to help create cultivated pork for a California-based company, Mission Barns.

Bianca Lê, a cell biologist for Mission Barns — a California-based cultivated meat company — was a guest on WXXI’s Connections Tuesday.

“We took a small sample of fat from Dawn, and we are now producing enough cultivated meat to service a handful of restaurants and retailers, once we get the approval from the regulators,” she said.

Last month, two cultivated meat companies — Upside Foods and Good Meat — announced that the USDA had granted final approval to be sold, marking the first time the product is available in the U.S. Mission Barns is expecting regulatory approval soon, allowing the meat made from Dawn’s cells to be sold at restaurants.

As for how Dawn is doing, Nate Salpeter — who runs Sweet Farm — says she’s loving life.

“She came in as this rambunctious little piglet, and today she probably weighs upwards of 150 pounds,” he said. “She runs around happy and healthily at Sweet Farm, doing all the things that you wish pigs could do, right?”

Salpeter added that Dawn’s cells alone have the potential to feed millions, if not more.

Jasmin Singer is the host of WXXI’s Weekend Edition and Environmental Connections, as well as a guest host for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Connections.
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