Article / Human Health / ILRI

Will lab-grown meat become an alternative to beef?

Village cattle coming in from the fields in Mozambique

Cattle in Mozambique coming in from the fields in the evening (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann). 

‘The world’s first test-tube burger will be ready to eat within months.

‘It will look, feel and, it is hoped, taste, like a regular quarter-pounder, its creator Mark Post told the world’s premier science conference. . . .

‘The “ethical meat” will would be kinder to the environment than the real thing, reduce animal suffering and help feed the world’s burgeoning population. . . .

‘Professor Post says that ‘everyone’ will want to eat the burgers, which, despite their vast initial cost could eventually be priced to match that of real meat.

‘However, it remains to be seen whether a public that likes to think of its chops, steaks and sausages as having their roots in nature will take to meat made in test-tubes.

‘The Maastricht University professor has spent the last six years trying to turn stem cells—‘master cells’ with the power to turn into all other cell types—into meat. . . .

‘Yesterday, Professor Post told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference in Vancouver that he has so far made a strip of beef measuring 3cm by 1.5cm by 0.5cm. . . .

‘The fledgling technology was highlighted in discussion paper about current and future demands on livestock production published recently by the Royal Society, Britain’s most prestigious scientific body.

The paper’s author, Professor Philip Thornton, of the International Livestock Research Institute in Edinburgh, wrote: “This is one example of something that could happen in the future that could have a very big impact on agriculture and livestock production.

‘”There are some advantages to the idea. For example, you could reduce the number of live animals substantially and that would reduce greenhouse gas production.

‘”There might be human health benefits because the health and safety issues associated with meat could be much better controlled.

‘”But are people going to eat it? People’s tastes have changed a lot over the years and eventually this may be something that is widely taken up.”

‘Cautioning about the economic impact on farmers, the professor said: “If you are talking about large-scale reductions in numbers of livestock, there are large-scale implications and we’d have to look very carefully to see if the benefits would outweigh some of the problems that might arise.”. . .’

Read the whole article at the Mail Online: Test tube burgers could hit kitchens this year after scientists create meat with taste of quarter-pounder, 20 Feb 2012.

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