[credit provider=”Flickr/pointnshoot” url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/pointnshoot/408384716/in/photostream/”]
It’s probably not a dish that will grace the menus of fast-food restaurants anytime soon, but this costly hamburger — manufactured from in-vitro meat grown in a laboratory — could be the antidote to many of the world’s ills, including global hunger and climate change. Reuters’ Kate Kelland spoke with Mark Post, a Dutch scientist who’s exploring the benefits of “cultured meat” as a sustainable alternative to livestock production.
Cultured meat is different from imitation meat (such as vegetarian food made from soy or gluten protein) in that it is actually produced from real animal flesh.
Using stem cells harvested from leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, Post nurtures them with a feed concocted of sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way.
So far he has produced whitish pale muscle-like strips, each of them around 2.5 cm (1 inch) long, less than a centimeter wide and so thin as to be almost see-through.
Pack enough of these together — probably around 3,000 of them in layers — throw in a few strips of lab-grown fat, and you have the world’s first “cultured meat” burger, he says.
Although the time-intensive process is still quite expensive — about $345,000 — scientists believe man-made meat has the potential be far more efficient and less harmful to the environment than conventional meat production.
“Current livestock meat production is just not sustainable,” Post told Reuters.”Not from an ecological point of view, and neither from a volume point of view. Right now we are using more than 50 per cent of all our agricultural land for livestock.”
And the world’s demand for meat is growing.
The Worldwatch Institute estimates that roughly 56 billion animals are raised and slaughtered for food each year, contributing to 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.
According to food researcher Hanna Tuomisto, lab-grown meat would produce up to 95 per cent less greenhouse gas and use about 98 per cent less land than traditional livestock production.
While in-vitro meat is still in the early stages of research, Post believes he can streamline the production process within the next year.
Don’t miss: 11 Amazing Facts About The McDonald’s McRib >