Would You Like a Bite of My Test Tube Burger?

Illustration for article titled Would You Like a Bite of My Test Tube Burger?

In theory, being able to make artificial meat in a lab sounds great—it'd be better for the earth than raising animals and would make protein more plentiful for a hungry population. But then there's the actual reality of it, which at the moment is sitting in a petri dish in the Netherlands and is described as a "yellow-pink sliver the size of a corn plaster." Terrific, because who doesn't love eating meat that looks like a used band-aid?

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As disgusting as it sounds, it's close to becoming a viable option. Dr. Mark Post, head of physiology at Maastricht University, is making the beef in the lab from stem cells and plans to debut an actual hamburger this October. It will have cost more than $300,000 to produce, so it probably won't be on offer at your local McDonald's anytime soon—unless, of course, they launch a new Hundred Thousand Dollar Value Meal™ menu to appeal to the one percenters. Dr. Post's research has been funded by an anonymous wealthy donor (mysterious!) who hopes to reduce cattle farming, which is a big contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Post says the burger will show that "with in-vitro methods, out of stem cells we can make a product that looks like and feels and hopefully tastes like meat." Hopefully being the operative word. He and his team make the muscle using cow stem cells and a substance called "fetal calf serum," which sounds like something you don't want near your mouth. (Though in truth it's probably no more disgusting than half the shit that touches a cow at a factory farm or slaughterhouse.) The muscle is then grown between pieces of Velcro and flexed routinely. They also shock it with an electric current to make more protein in the cells, which improves the texture. Not quite as charming as the idea of a cow roaming happily over grass-covered hills, but it'll do in a pinch.

So far they've only grown small, thin sheets of cow muscle. To make that all into a burger, they'll need 3,000 pieces of muscle, plus a few hundred pieces of fatty tissue. They're going to mix it all together and then put it in a patty, and voila! A hamburger made without ever growing a living cow. Assuming it doesn't taste absolutely vile, could this become a legitimate meat alternative? Post thinks so—and there are others working on similar efforts elsewhere. He doesn't even anticipate it being that difficult to scale up operations. So soon we could all be clamoring for Petri Meat instead of the grass-fed organic stuff that's selling for top dollar now. Mmm, Petri Meat…

£200,000 test-tube burger marks milestone in future meat-eating [Guardian]

Image via Andrjuss and Eugene Sim/Shutterstock.

DISCUSSION

erikam
Erikahasfootinmouthdisease

Looks like this either didn't get posted OR got deleted. interesting. I always copy my rants before i post them incase my post gets accidently erased. Its still there! Here goes again:

This is fucking bullshit. Why are we wasting so much money and resources to create fake meat that requires living cows to start it anyway? And yes, it may be protein but it will not have the nutrients that grass fed (not corn or grain feed crap) beef has. The nutrient cycle, people! Cow eats grass, bacteria in cow's 4 stomachs ferment it and now gets nutrients out of grass. Cow poops out what is left and builds up top soil (VERY important AND a resource WE ARE LOOSING). Urine of cow also flushes out other minerals and adds amonia and changes the ph slightly so soil is no longer neutral. A mildly alkaline or acidic soil will free up more nutrients like nitrogen that are unavailable for plants in a neutral ph soil. Grass thus has nutrients available to grow on and thrives. at some point the cow dies and ti can be consumed by people and bone burned an turned into bone meal increasing the calcium in the soil. Pour the blood back in the soil: the plants will lap it up. REPEAT. You take out the cows (or ideally buffallo which are gentler on grasslands) the grass wont thrive because it will take nutrients out of the soils but nothing is returning the nutrients to the soil. This is even worse when the grass or grain is harvested and sold somewhere else. Those nutrients leave the property never to come back on their own. This those cases the soil becomes barren of nutrients the plant consumes from the soil and farmers are forced to use fertilizers and soil amendments.

What we need to do is go back to small farms that utilize animals while they are living and in their death to create high quality meat and vegetables. We need to accept meat cost money and cut back on the amount we eat, but we should eat meat. Just less of a higher quality. I'm so sick of all this "lets just grow plants and do away with animals!" bullshit. When used right animals cut down on waste on farms which is why humans have domesticated and used animals for millenia. Its only now with technology we think we can get away from our symbiotic relationship with animals. We can, maybe, but we should not. Cows and other ruminants can create food out of stuff we cannot eat. My sheep eat bark off trees. BARK! and they can get nutrients out of it WE HUMANS cannot get. But they can eat the bark, turn it into protein and get all the nutrients out of the bark and into their muscle and we can in turn through the sheep eat bark. what they do not digest, they poop out and the tree gets to eat it again.

And how much energy does it cost to create that meat? NONE. they are pasture raised and get supplimented with hay that grew in their pasture. How much energy for this fake lab meat? ALOT more than my happy sheep.