Artificial meat grown in lab – on plates within five years?

November 29, 2009

Artificial meat grown in lab - on plates within five years?The days when the human population ate all natural ingredients are long gone. Most foodstuffs we consume these days contain additives, preservatives, or other such chemically produced substances for reasons of taste, longevity, or cost. And soon all our food could be artificially engineered, including animal meat.

One of the ever-popular fad diets around now consists of eating food we’d have consumed thousands of years ago. So, nuts, beans, pulses, fruit, and vegetables are eaten in place of the chemically enhanced garbage many of us shove down our throats currently. Unfortunately, the human race is moving ever further away from that kind of diet, with science increasingly being turned to.

The latest move towards an artificially produced diet has now occurred in a laboratory in the Netherlands. According to The Times, Dutch scientists have grown a form of meat artificially for the first time. The meat has been described as “soggy pork” and in its current state isn’t going to turning up on the menu at your favorite restaurant. But it may do in the near future.

The researchers extracted cells from the muscle of a live pig and incubated them in an animal product broth. The cells then multiplied to create muscle tissue. At the moment the result is a sticky substance that would need exercising like normal muscle to turn it into a meat we could recognize.

Mark Post, professor of physiology at Eindhoven University, the man leading the experiments, said:

You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals. What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue. 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.

If it’s cheap then yes, they probably will, and it could be on sale within five years. However, the idea of eating artificially created meat isn’t exactly setting my taste buds on edge at this point. Then again, the sheer number of advantages by growing meat rather than breeding animals to slaughter for meat means the idea should definitely be considered.

Artificial meat would cut greenhouse gases and help the environment, animals would no longer be treated inhumanely and grown purely for food, and the lessening of livestock would free up the considerable amount of land they currently take up being farmed. Hell, even vegetarians are for the idea assuming the process was properly governed. The Vegetarian Society said:

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.

Part of me thinks we should leave nature well alone but the advantages tell me otherwise. It all comes down to whether artificial meat will ever be accepted both in terms of taste and ethics. If so then farming could be about to be revolutionized.

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6 Responses to “Artificial meat grown in lab – on plates within five years?”

  1. DavidB:

    You missed the most obvious correllation Dave! Less animals means less “emissions” that “cause” global warming!

    From my BlackBerry Storm…

  2. Dave Parrack:

    “Artificial meat would cut greenhouse gases and help the environment.”

  3. Mike:

    5 years? Nah, 15 at the least.

  4. Anonymoose:

    I’m not a biologist, but I’m skeptical about the lowering greenhouse gasses from artificial meat growth substituting cattle slaughter. Certain chemical reactions have to occur to change biological goo into meat. Don’t know what they are, but I fart and I’m a meat bag, so…
    And what are they making the ‘animal product broth’ from? What is this ‘animal product’ they’re making the broth from?

  5. Viaregis:

    I’m sure we all could have benefited by not having to associate the term “artificial meat” with “soggy pork”. The idea of having to *exercise* the meat to achieve more of a flesh-like substance creeps me out!

  6. bioxplorer:

    It will take more than 5 years to reach the market…
    and the problem will be not in the technology , but more due to bureaucracy…
    We’ll see..I hope… :)

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