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Meat From the Lab…Is This the Future or Just Plain Gross?

Meat From the Lab…Is This the Future or Just Plain Gross?

 

Imagine if meat was brewed in tanks like yeast, or could be manufactured using a 3-D printer.  Would it still be meat, or would it just be protein? Could you eat it and still be vegetarian? Could you eat it and not gag?

I had a chance attend the Economist’s Annual Ideas Economy Event again today, and heard Andras Forgacs describe his new venture “Modern Meadow.” The early stage company is an offshoot of his medical venture Organovo, which is working on using 3-D printing to create ‘human tissue on demand’ for research and medical applications. If you can imagine someday having an HP printer 3-D printing a replacement for your kidney, you get the idea. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not.

So the folks at Organovo asked the obvious question that any overworked tissue scientists at a start up would ask: “Hey , I wonder if we can use this to make a  great steak?”  Actually, they went after pork chops first.

As non live-animal sourced meat moves towards commercial testing, it will be interesting to see what — if any– process is acceptable to the general public. Maybe someday Modern Meadow will  offer you a chance to make your hamburger to order, in any shape you want it (Mickey Mouse ears? President Obama’s profile? Cow shaped? )

Forgacs points out (quite correctly) that the resources, land use, and climate issues associated with beef are unsustainable.  If you also add in the current controversy over ‘pink slime’, and the manufacturing techniques used to make Chicken Nuggets, a lab-grown option also starts to seem like a better idea.

For his part, Forgacs pointed out that Winston Churchill said way back in the 1930’s that “Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”  Of course Churchill also famously said that he never developed indigestion from eating his words.

Read more:

Would You Eat Shmeat?

We Could Be Eating Test-Tube Meat Very Soon

 

Read more: , , ,

Photo: Partially adopted from AttributionSome rights reserved by Creative Tools (before photoshop)

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126 comments

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6:10PM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

Hmm, well if it produces meat more efficiently without animal suffering, sounds fine with me. I wonder how it will compare as far as resource usage? A controlled lab type environment would probably reduce the chance of contamination or exchanging diseases with local wildlife, probably won't have to worry about fecal contamination either.

I guess my main concerns would be where the nutrients to grow the cells comes from, resources used to transport the nutrients, how waste is processed and so on.

4:23PM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

yuck factor, but if it s the same as far a nutrients go, and is animal free.. why not? a step forward?

11:19PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

Not really interested in eating meat or veggies for that matter synthesized in a lab or where ever.
I will always eat meat, prefer the free range animals raised on a farm that does not use antibiotics and chemicals. The same goes for fruits and veggies, not the GMO manufactured things being produced.
People who do not care to eat meat can become vegans or vegetarians (there are levels here, some vegans refuse to eat eggs or any dairy, others will eat some of these) and people who wish to eat meat simply enjoy the taste of it.

10:21PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

When science goes too far! We are contending enough with GM products, preservatives, additives, colorings. We have had enough of the chemicals and the disease. They play with our food as if it is a game and wonder why there is so much illness and shortened lives! And then they say, "Do you want a pill for that?"

9:42PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

gross meat from the farm please no test tube

6:03PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

Processed foods are currently what is destroying our health. I don't see how this PROCESS will be any different. Can't we just stick to our naturally evolved diet of single ingredient foods. It is what is best for us after all. I can't understand why we have to muck everything up in the sake of gaining a buck, after all that it what the scientists are looking to do here.

I personally am having nothing to do with this muck.

1:47PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Honestly, it DOES bother me (because no one thought it was necessary to tell me)...
At the same time, has anyone here ever thought to look up what exactly the creamy filling in a twinkie is made from? I read the ingredient list and for some strange reason, I STILL eat twinkies :p

7:44AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

noted!

6:39AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

it's japan's new protein, crap burgers. disgusting, I need to go barf. I will eat leaves off a tree before I eat crap.

10:42PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

Fantastic! Even though I probably wouldn't find manufactured meat very palatable, it's a huge advance towards not killing animals for consumption! They could have something there...

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