Global Biodesign Challenge Seeks Vegan Wool for 2018

PETA Sponsors Push for Sustainable Biomaterial to Replace Wool From Mutilated, Abused Sheep

For Immediate Release:
June 22, 2017

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

New York

Through a partnership with PETA, investment firm Stray Dog Capital, and Stella McCartney Ltd., the 2018 Biodesign Challenge for college students nationwide will include the first-ever PETA Prize for Animal-Free Wool, which seeks a biofabricated vegan wool. The new prize will be introduced on Friday at this year’s Biodesign Challenge Summit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

“Today’s wool industry devastates the environment and leaves gentle sheep bloody and broken in shearing sheds,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA’s special Biodesign Challenge award will both inspire and equip young designers to develop a sustainable material that spares animals suffering.”

The Biodesign Challenge partners design students with biotech professionals to develop new inventions. Each of the more than 30 universities that participate in the Biodesign Challenge holds a competition at the school level, and the winners from each school head to New York City to showcase their designs and compete at the national level.

The PETA prize will be awarded in June 2018 to the team that explores and/or develops proofs of a concept for a sustainable biomaterial that could replace animal wool. The student teams should take into consideration the material’s lifecycle, production processes, disposal, and potential for recycling. The teams should also explore how the biomaterial manufacturing process might scale up to be compatible with or even propel today’s garment industry.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear”—has released six exposés recorded at 39 wool-producing facilities on three continents that have all revealed that sheep are mutilated, abused, and skinned alive in the international wool industry. Shearers are typically paid by volume and not by the hour, which encourages fast, violent work. The wool industry also produces massive amounts of methane, erodes the soil, and contaminates waterways.

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