Scientists in the Netherlands have been growing meat tissues in the laboratory, and hope to create the first ever “test-tube burger” by the end of 2012. Also known as “in vitro” or “cultured” meat, the researchers have successfully used stem cells to grow strips of muscle in petri dishes. This tissue will be combined with blood and artificially grown fats to make meat with a hamburger consistency.
The project was funded by an anonymous investor, who contributed roughly $330,000. Although this is a high cost to produce just one hamburger, lead researcher Prof. Mark Post is confident that costs can be dramatically reduced by commercialization, like so many other inventions.
The concept of lab-grown meat may trigger a gag reflex in many, but a number of organizations argue that it can reduce the environmental damage caused by raising livestock. The global demand for meat continues to climb, particularly in Asia and Africa. It’s hoped that artificial meat will use fewer resources to produce, in addition to cutting down the animal cruelty so too often found in factory farms. PETA endorses lab-produced meat, going so far as to offer a million dollars to the first scientist able to bring the product to the commercial market.
Is the idea of meat grown in giant tanks known as “bioreactors” a good thing for mankind? On the surface, you would think “NO!” Don’t mess with Mother Nature, right? But wait just one minute all you do-gooders… there may just be a little method to this madness.
The Norwegians are at it again… this time they are trying to save the planet from the environmental perils that come with raising farm animals for human consumption. There’s the methane that cattle emit. Not to mention all the carbon-producing resources that go into raising them.
Scientists are working on various procedures to cultivate meat in a lab, and while filet mignon is not considered a near-term possibility, hamburger sure is. The main benefits of such eye-raising scientific inquiry is that if you’re cultivating meat in the lab, you cut out all the environmentally-damaging procedures to get that juicy burger on your plate.
I, for one, still have reservations about eating meat grown in laboratories, but who knows… it may be the only choice for carnivores someday. Here’s more on the fascinating research.