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Man-made meat may be just around the corner, say scientists

2 commentsBy Nathan Gray , 28-Jun-2011

Facing an ever-increasing population, and a growing demand for meat products, the world’s first in vitro meat may offer the beginning of a new solution to the problem, say researchers.

A team of scientists, led by Dr Mark Post, a professor of physiology at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, are currently developing meat products grown from stem cells extracted from cattle. The in vitro process involves growing muscle tissue from a small number of stem cells taken from healthy cows.

Researchers believe the so called ‘test tube meat’, which is grown from stem cells could eventually lead to the reliable, sustainable production of low cost food, without the need for livestock.

Growing population

The researchers said that as the global population grows over the next few decades, the world’s meat consumption is also expected to double by around 2050.

As a result, lab grown meats such as beef, chicken and lamb could become commonplace.

Man-made meat

The researchers are currently working on producing a burger from around 10,000 stem cells extracted from cattle. The cells are left to multiply by more than a billion times, producing muscle tissue that will then be used to make burgers.

In 2009 researchers from Maastricht University also grew strips of pork using similar methods, whilst fish fillets have previously been grown in a New York laboratory using cells taken from goldfish muscle tissue.

The research team said that the first in vitro burger could be ready to be taste tested in less than twelve month's time.

Sustainable?

A study by researchers at Oxford University previously suggested that that the process of in vitro meat production could mean a 35 to 60 per cent reduction in energy consumption, in addition to requiring 98 per cent less land and producing between 80 and 95 per cent less greenhouse gas than conventional farming.

FoodNavigator also spoke to Professor Mark Post in a recent podcast on this subject. Click here to listen to the interview .

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

Not the best solution in my opinion

It seems to me that is just another way for the food industry to make money. We would have plenty of food for the increasing population of this planet if people simply gave up consuming meat and adopted a plant-based diet.

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Posted by Maggie
02 July 2011 | 02h35

Not sure about this...

Stem cell "meat"? And I thought the real stuff was gross...
I wonder what they're feeding those cells? Since "we are what we eat", I would think that the contents of the nutrient matrix might be of some concern to anybody who might eat this stuff. How will it compare to, say, the nutrient content of naturally developed muscle from a properly pastured organic animal? Also, whether this will provide a significant reduction in global resource use will remain to be determined. "Stem cell meat" will now become the impetus for creating whole new academic and industry research centers focused on such issues as how to best optimize the feeding of these cells for profitability and human nutrition, what effects the consumption of "lab meat" will have on human health, and how to create exotic "meats". Are we going to count the amount of energy and resources used in these pursuits, as part of the total footprint of "lab meat"?
I'm skeptical. Personally, I'll still take my veggies BEFORE they're liquefied into a petri dish or cooked inside an animal's stomach(s), please!

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Posted by Jennifer Christiano
28 June 2011 | 21h16

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