Meat of the Future

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In the future, meat will no longer come from animals, or at least that is what scientists are hoping for. Scientists have, in recent years, been working on growing meat in labs, this is produced through “tissue-engineering” technology. The reason researchers are working on developing this new scientific field is to try to provide cruelty-free meat, as well as combat the adverse environmental impact that cattle farming creates. The advantages of growing meat in labs, is that it will take up less space than cattle farming, freeing up fields to be used for farming or other projects.

What is the argument for turning against cattle farming? It has all to do with the environmental impact of meat production, especially that of beef. Some experts even go as far as saying that giving up on eating beef will be more impactful than giving up your car, and that is because of the large amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from cow farms. Cows take up a lot of land, drink up a lot of water and eat a lot of grass, all the while belching methane (a greenhouse gas). As some researchers say this whole process is not efficient whatsoever, and eating meat if it causes such harm to the environment then a drastic change needs to be made.

“Agriculture is a significant driver of global warming and causes 15% of all emissions, half of which are from livestock.” Of course it is not the existence of cows that is in question, but the existence of cow industrial farms that is adding to the climate change conundrum we are now facing.

Currently, in-vitro meat has to be painstakingly grown one muscle strip at a time, taking a whole team of scientists to do that, which is why the first in-vitro meat burger cost around USD 330,000 to produce, making it the most expensive burger ever. The in-vitro meat burger was made by a Dutch team of scientists led by Professor Mark Post at Maastricht University.

 In order to produce it, scientists used cow stem cells, then helped them grow in petri dishes to form 20,000 strips of muscle tissue strands. The stem cells were placed in a bioreactor, which provides the cells with an environment that promotes their development into tissue. A study showed that this way of producing meat uses 45% less energy and gives off 96% less greenhouse gas emissions.

The use of stem cells however cannot produce more sophisticated meat, it can only produce meat similar to ones used in burgers and nuggets. Stem cells were used because they can multiply quickly unlike fully formed muscle cells. The science is still in its early stages, but Professor Mark Post predicted that in 10 to 20 years’ time in-vitro meat could be available in supermarkets.

 

Interested to see what the in-vitro meat burger looked like? Then watch the taste test:

Want to know more about the science behind it, check out this video:

References
http://www.bbc.com/
http://s.telegraph.co.uk/
http://www.futurefood.org/
http://www.theguardian.com/
http://www.theguardian.com/
 

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