Vat-grown meats give new meaning to the term “factory farming”

The latest update on the vat-grown meat front from NPR:

“Imagine picking up a nice juicy burger and taking a bite, only to find out that the meaty burger you’re biting into didn’t come from an animal — it was grown in a lab.

Sound far-fetched? The reality of test-tube burgers in supermarkets may be close to becoming a reality. Scientists at laboratories around the world are currently working to make meat in labs that will eventually look and taste like the real thing, without any animal parts.

Science writer Michael Specter recently traveled to laboratories in the Netherlands and North Carolina to examine the progress scientists have made in developing in vitro meat. Hewrites about his trip, and the arguments in favor of lab-made steaks, in the May 23 issue of The New Yorker.

Motivation For Lab Meat

Specter explains that part of the motivation for growing meat in laboratories is animal welfare: billions of cows, chickens and pigs would no longer spend their lives force-fed grain and antibiotics or cooped up in factory farms.

“There is something inherently creepy about [growing meat in labs],” Specter tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “But there is something more inherently creepy about the way we deal with the animals that we eat. … They live a horrible life, and they often die quite cruelly. So the idea of being able to eliminate some of that is extremely exciting for a lot of people.”

Another motivation, Specter says, is the positive environmental impact test-tube meat could have on the planet. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, global livestock is responsible for nearly 20 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions. And as the population grows, he says, more resources will be needed to sustain the agricultural industry.

“We have 7 billion people on the planet, and there will be 9 billion [people] by 2050,” he says. “Those people need food. They need protein — and they tend to eat better as they get wealthier. And better, unfortunately, means eating more like Americans — a lot of meat. And a lot of meat means a lot of water, a lot of grain, a lot of grass. And we don’t have that much room for any of it.”

How It Works

Currently tissue scientists are taking stem cells from pigs and putting them in nutrient broth-filled petri dishes, where they rapidly grow. The biggest slab of meat grown so far is about the size of a contact lens and contains millions of cells. The next step, Specter says, is trying to take these cells and turn them into muscle tissue, using biodegradable scaffolding platforms…”

Read more on NPR

1 Comment

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One response to “Vat-grown meats give new meaning to the term “factory farming”

  1. cheryl

    Can we say: SOYLENT GREEN?
    And I say garbage in, garbage out! We are literally what we eat, just like the cows and chickens raised on grain instead of grass or allowed out to pasture to eat what they naturally eat. They are need of great deals of antibiotics, medications and live shorter lives. A dairy cow raised in a conventional factory farm only lives for a max of 18 months compared to pastured cows who live for nearly 20 years.
    Which one would be more economical to have on a dairy farm?
    Stupid scientist! Book smart, no common sense!

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