Is Lab-Grown Meat the Food of our Future?

burger

Many vegetarians chose their diet choice for ethical reasons. Many are opposed to the way animals are kept in crowded, unsanitary conditions and are killed in large amounts to feed us. Many also point out that world hunger problems could be alleviated if  many of us switched to a vegetarian diet. Meat production costs a lot of resources. It makes up about 18% of all of our greenhouse gas emissions. This doesn’t even include methane and nitrous oxide, which are even more powerful in warming the global climate than carbon dioxide. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, livestock consume 7 times more grain than humans in the United States. They also found that about 25 kilocalories of fossil fuel are used for every 1
kilocalorie of meat that is produced. Finally, 1 kilogram of meat requires 100 times more water than it takes to produce 1 kilogram of grain. With a rising population and a rising demand for meat in developing countries, we find ourselves looking at an unsustainable process.

However, in 2013, the world saw a new option. Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University unveiled a hamburger that was grown in a lab using stem cells. This burger cost $330,000 at the time, but since then he has improved the process and has brought the price down to around $10 per burger with hopes of lowering it even further though scaling up production.

To make this work, a small sample of muscle tissue is first removed from an animal. Naturally, when muscle tissue is damaged, it is repaired by a type of stem cell, called myosatellite cells. These cells work to grow back muscle tissue. The scientists have to be separated from the tissue and put it optimal conditions to multiply and differentiate. When cells differentiate, it means that they take on different functions, and then they form muscle fibers and proteins. These muscle fibers make up tissue, and over 20,000 of these tissues were put together to make this hamburger.

Lab-grown meat would be dramatically more economically friendly.  Synthetic beef uses 45% less energy than farming real cattle. It produces 96% less greenhouse gas, and it uses 99% less land.

Meat Comparison

But this first burger was just protein. This artificial meat did not have fat or blood, which gives a hamburger a lot of its flavor. So, Post and his fellow scientists plan to add lab grown fat cells into the mix of the meat in order to give it flavor. Post also looks for ways to produce the meat in greater quantities at a time. This would require a way to deliver lots of oxygen to the cells to keep them all growing at once. He also wants to get this product in stores within the next five years. But first, the product will be required to be tested by the Food Standards Agency

This is a revolutionary idea that would change many aspects of our world as we know it if it is successful. It would change the face of agriculture, eliminating the large amounts of space, food, water, and animals needed to meet the meat needs of the public. It would also change our planet’s environment by reducing our output of greenhouse gas, animal waste, and again would decrease our land usage.

A problem that could face this movement is whether or not this would become socially acceptable. An instinctual fear of unknown and strange things is present in our society. Many people are currently wary of other genetically modified foods. The public must be able to be confident that this meat is safe. As Post identified, the taste must be good as well for this to become the new norm.

 

5 thoughts on “Is Lab-Grown Meat the Food of our Future?

  1. yvy5242

    This is really an interesting article, since now my current intended major is biological engineering. I do believe artificial food would be a huge trend in the future. This is why there are a large number scientists put efforts for. Some people may worry about the quality of food we will eat in the future, however, this can also be a good thing since the population is bloated. Labs can feed more people than before. Also, recently I read an article about creating smells. This is the link: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/boston-biotech-company-engineering-new-smells-180957404/ It is so amazing that scientists in the future can alter food’s smells! Can you imagine when you sense an aroma of bananas when you actually smell an orange?

  2. Allie

    This post was very original and interesting. Since technology and science are both ever-growing, it was only a matter of time until something as inventive as this was discovered. As revolutionary as this may be, I am not sure that people will be accepting of this concept. As of now, many people are skeptical of artificial foods, GMO’s, and anything made in labs in general. I think that although this burger may pose as an aid to a cleaner and greener Earth, I doubt people will be susceptible to such a different type of food. However, after conducting some research to see if others agreed with my statement above, I found that this “test tube meat” was actually praised by PETA and was seen as “a way to reduce suffering.” NBC News offers some statements from people who are all for the lab meat!

  3. Adam Thomas Horst

    This is a fascinating topic to think about. It really makes sense that this new form of meat would be able to cut down on meat production costs, and it seems logical that it would be better for the environment. Something that I did wonder while reading this was whether a vegetarian would be willing to eat this burger or not. It is not true meat, but it is synthetic meat. Overall I think this is a great blog post. I found another website that might help you research more:
    Synthetic Meat

  4. Caitlin Emily Whelan

    Although I can see from your studies that the meat is safe, I do not feel many Americans will be okay with eating lab-grown meat. This meat has to have some artificial things in it, considering basically the whole thing is artificial. Especially with today’s Americans being all about organic foods, I do not think people will eat food that is not only not organic, but the whole thing does not even come from a real animal. Only a tiny portion of it does. It also does not sound too appetizing. Here is an article that goes along with what I am saying. It points out that the burgers are not good, these scientists just want to show that yes, it is possible to create lab-grown meat. It also states, “For now, the stuff is made from stem cells drawn from the necks of living cows, then dosed with antibiotics and bathed in blood from cattle fetuses.” (Engber), which does not sound too appealing.

  5. Emanuel Gabriel Mitchell

    This blog is definitely the most interesting one that I have come across. Over the past few decades the world has been increasingly worried about sustainability on Earth. This idea by Post will be revolutionary, if he finds a way for genetically modified foods to become the norm. I appreciate the way you introduced this new alternative, by basically saying you don’t need to become a vegetarian. In this article it proposes the idea of becoming more creative with our foods by eating caterpillars, grasshoppers, wasp, etc. as some other countries already do. This article also, argued that these edible insects have more protein along with less calories and fat than beef.

Leave a Reply