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Scientists grow meat in a lab for the first time

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November 30, 2009

The ability to grow artificial meat in a lab could be essential to a stable future

The ability to grow artificial meat in a lab could be essential to a stable future

Four years ago, a paper from the Tissue Engineering journal outlined techniques that would allow large-scale meat production in a lab. Today we can view the fruits of their research, as scientists now confirm that they have managed to grow a form of meat in a laboratory for the first time.

Researchers from The Netherlands extracted myoblast cells from the muscle of a live pig; cells that in the right environment would grow into muscle in order to repair damage to tissue, and incubated them in a nutrient-based solution derived from the blood of animal foetuses. The result was what has been described as “a soggy form of pork” which, due to laboratory rules hasn’t been sampled for taste yet. Sufficient “exercising” of said product could however yield a tougher, steak-like consistency.

Professor of physiology at Eindhoven University Mark Post, lead scientist of the government-funded research, said “You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals. We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there. This product will be good for the environment and will reduce animal suffering. If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it.”

Aside from the obvious benefits of more effective global meat and dairy production, consumption of which is set to double by 2050, the moral benefits have been acknowledged by vegetarians who agree that they have no ethical objection to the procedure, though some still query its potential. A Vegetarian Society spokesperson argues “The big question is how could you guarantee you were eating artificial flesh rather than flesh from an animal that had been slaughtered. It would be very difficult to label and identify in a way that people would trust.”

In addition, the ability to produce meat in a laboratory would yield environmental benefits. With 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases produced by livestock, any reduction would have a significant impact on our collective carbon footprint.

6 Comments

"If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it" That statement is not even close to the truth. I don't like natural meat as it is. I also don't like the fact that scientists are modifying vegetables to suit their needs. I most definitely will NEVER eat man made meat.

If they are trying to feed more people by growing meat, consider how much energy and effort will have to go into it's production before you think it's better than just feeding the world grains.

At present with 'real' meat, it takes 9 pounds of feed for every 1 pound of meat. Basic math will tell you that you can feed 9 times as many people by skipping that steak.

Raum Bances
1st December, 2009 @ 05:28 am PST

Wow, have I been reading Gizmag stories for more than four years? I guess so since I remember reading about the original paper described in a story in 2005. This site also provides me with the ability to go back and reread the 2005 article.

This is fascinating, and I would think has large implications where there is a malnourished population. If it can really produce a viable protein source at industrial scale, I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of the really important advancements that affects the human population in a big way. (Yes, underneath I am worried about some Michael Crichton backlash from eating this 'meat')... They'll probably call it "Meit" or something

TheDuke
1st December, 2009 @ 09:41 am PST

Soylent Green is people!

Luddite
2nd December, 2009 @ 12:25 pm PST

I am sorry but who is going to eat this? If it is unethical to eat meat? Thousands of species of animals eat other animals. It is normal and natural.

That said, no one wants franken meat. People get upset when you mention genetically modified corn which we know if perfectly safe for human consumption.

Perhaps it is true that it takes 9lbs of feed to produce 1lb of food. I would think it would be more, that said that feed is often byproducts of other foods. For example when a vegan eats tofu, they are only eating part of the soybean. Much of what we don't eat get fed to cows. Additionally cows often spend a great deal of time free range and only get put in feed lot at the end of their life to increase the ration of usable meat. Since I can't go out to a field in the middle of TX and eat the grass, they are not eating food that I could be fed. Perhaps we should eat less meat, perhaps we should eat more. The sad truth is if you makes frankin meat, we run the risk of laws which limit our ability to eat real meat and would force us to eat fake meat.

look animals like cows pigs and chicken eat things humans can't and make food that we can eat.. The more meat we eat the more lives we help create. If meat were illegal those cows would never live in the first place.

Michael Mantion
13th December, 2009 @ 06:38 pm PST

Google the movie Earthlings. Why would you waste 9 pounds of grain so you could eat 1 pound of meat when you could feed 18 people with 9 pounds of grain. People are getting fat and there health is going to crap because they want a steak every day. They are all full of growth hormones anyway. Everyone is on Lipitor and has high blood pressure and has diabetes because of meat. I cant wait for the lab grown meat to be available. If it taste the same and is good for you, why eat the the real ones? You are an idiot to have that mentality. Please, keep eating the cows so you can kick off faster.

jerry400
9th March, 2012 @ 08:37 pm PST

well if you think about it,all meat is ,is the duplication of certain cells turning into an animal,if you can take the animal out of the process...you would still have real meat,just bio engineered,interesting,i came up with a theory a few years ago on how too make a real replicator from star trek,ive only told 2 people,and they both think it would work,but we are centuries away from it,i can only quickly explain it in my own words as,basic transmutation of carbon based things into,well,anything!

Sincerely-

@Stephy from Beef Jerky

Stephy
14th June, 2012 @ 09:34 am PDT
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