Posting in Cities
Edible, lab-grown fake meat is only a year away, says a scientist who is growing it from stem cells.
This so-called "in vitro" meat (which means, in essence, it was grown in a petri dish) is one of those rare breakthroughs that could smash our dependence on cruel CAFO feedlots, wasteful industrial agriculture practices and even farms themselves, allowing engineers to grow our protein under controlled conditions, anywhere in the world -- including in the cities where most of us live.
Mark Post, a biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, says he believes he can create the world's first proof-of-concept burger within a year. Post and other scientists have been pursuing the holy grail of lab-grown meat -- something humans would find palatable to eat -- since at least the 1990's.
The key is starting with stem cells -- the same kind of pluripotent cells medical scientists hope to use to cure disease -- and growing them into small strips of muscle tissue. Throw together enough of them, about 3,000, add in some artificial fat and, mmmm, are you getting hungry yet?
Even if Post succeeds in creating a "fake burger," it will take some kind of branding genius to get over the "yuck" factor. That's why a collection of designers has already begun thinking about how to re-brand fake meat in order to accentuate the positive -- eco-friendliness, no animal slaughter -- and make us all forget that it was grown in a dark room in a bath of nutrients that probably smell like the planet Dagobah.
Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt
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Nov 10, 2011
As a long term vegan, I am in favor of any technology that helps bring more compassion to the world. Although I would continue to eat veggie based "burgers", I would encourage meat eaters to switch to the more compassionate in-vitro meat from this research. I'm assuming that the stem cells will be artificially produced and not harvested from living sources. Surely there will remain a large contingency of animal centric meat consumers who will never use such a product. But hopefully the demand for living creatures to feed the world will be lessened to some extent by this product.
I grew up on a farm. I've helped slaughter hogs and chickens. I've been around feed lots, I'm very aware how food animals are now grown in the US. It's time for factory grown meat. I'd like a guilt-free hamburger from time to time and some guilt-free sausage to put in my spaghetti sauce. Let's grow fewer cows and more trees. We need the carbon sink that forests provide. And this is likely to become very inexpensive meat. A protein source for those whose budgets make it hard to afford protein. It's also likely to bring down food prices overall. So much of our food goes to feed animals which we then slaughter for food. What's the ratio, 25 pounds of plant protein to grow one pound of animal protein? Grow the meat more efficiently and free a lot of grain for humans.
...and hence whether this "meat" would be vegetarian was my next question. But also - the "yuck" factor of this isn't any worse than the factory-grown fungus protein which goes into many veggie alternatives (I'm thinking of Quorn here). I eat those and find them delicious! Open your minds, meaties, and free your palettes!
I fully agree with @Wallace Bob. The 'yuckiness' of lab-grown meat pales in comparison with the obscenities in the treatment of livestock.