The race to create edible, lab-generated meat could be about to hit the finishing line, as Dutch scientists prepare to slap the first in vitro burger on the barbecue. The first burger will have cost an estimated $300,000 to produce, but the lead scientist is confident that after he has proved the technique works, it could be adapted for mass production in the next 20 years.
This idea is not new. Winston Churchill in 1932, wrote: “50 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.” we can say Churchill’s prediction was out by a few decades but details are, being kept under wraps for a high-profile launch being planned in London sometime this spring. The professor leading the research has said he wants one of Britain’s top celebrity chefs to cook his creation. Dr. Mark Post has suggested the burger he’s growing from bovine stem cells could be “flame grilled” by Heston Blumenthal, the three-star chef whose application of food science has led to dishes like snail porridge, and bacon and egg ice cream.
By securing celebrity endorsement, Dr. Mark Post hopes to convince the public and investors that the in vitro burger is not a gastronomic gimmick but a serious response to ethical, nutritional and environmental challenges on a global scale.
Dr Post said in a recent statement that “Current livestock meat production is just not sustainable,” he also went on to say that “Right now, we are using more than 50 per cent of all our agricultural land for livestock. It’s simple maths. We have to come up with alternatives. If we don’t do anything, meat will become a luxury food and be very, very expensive.”
The UN’s World Health Organization estimates global demand for meat will double in the next 40 years. With so much farmland already used for meat production, and with cattle consuming 10 percent of the world’s fresh water supplies, campaigners say conventional animal raising is unsustainable.
Meat production is also blamed for making a major contribution to global warming, through methane released by “farting” animals and by the decaying remains of crops needed to feed livestock. A Dutch study has claimed switching to a low meat diet could cut the cost of fighting climate change by $20 trillion up to 2050.
“The meat labs would use only 1 percent of the land and 4 percent of the water associated with conventional meat, and greenhouse gases would be reduced by up to 96 percent in comparison to raising animals,” says the website of the Amsterdam-based Next Nature Foundation. “Lab-grown meat should also provide cheap nutrition and help improve animal welfare as millions of people in rapidly emerging economies such as China and India are rising from poverty and become able to afford more meat in their diets.”
Dr. Koert van Mensvoort runs the Next Nature Foundation and heads a team at the Eindhoven University of Technology which is working with Post to examine how the lab meat could be used as a food of the future.
“The way we produce meat today is unsustainable. There are basically three options for the future: one is that we will all be vegetarians, eating rice and beans; another option is people start to eat other protein sources, like insects; the third option is in vitro meat grown without having to kill an animal.”
By removing animal death and suffering, the food production process and eventually providing healthy, tasty and sustainable meat, supporters of the idea say consumers will warm to the idea.
Dr. Kurt Schmidinger, an Austrian food scientist who promotes in vitro meat through the website futurefood.org says investors in lab-grown meat could tap into the $250 billion world meat market.
What Dr. Kurt Schmidinger says is true and could potentially be much more in the future but that is if we accept the idea of this new “future food” just like “printing your own food”
What do you think?
Would you warm to the idea of eating meat that was grown in a lab?
- Test Tube Meat and 9 Other Innovations Changing Our World (ideas.time.com)
- Bill Gates Advocating For Big Cut In Meat Consumption (planetsave.com)