Messenger A new techno bubble is inflating above the meadows of Silicon Valley: Based on a seductive story of providing food with zero consequences, CA promises to get rid of the ethical, environmental and health costs of animal husbandry.
Steak of the Art: When you factor in the fertilizer needed to grow animal feed and the sheer volume of methane expelled by cows mostly, though not entirely, from their mouthsa carnivore driving a Prius can contribute more to global warming than a vegan in a Hummer.
In this vision of the future, our steaks are grown in vats rather than in cows, with layers of cow cells nurtured on complex machinery to create a cruelty-free, sustainable meat alternative. Cell culture is one of the most expensive and resource-intensive techniques in modern biology. Keeping the cells warm, healthy, well-fed, and free of contamination takes incredible labor and energy, even when scaled to the 10,liter vats that biotech companies use.
In addition, even in those sophisticated vats, the three-dimensional techniques that would be required to grow actual steaks with a mix of muscle and fat have not been invented yet, though not for lack of trying. This technology would primarily benefit our ability to make artificial organ replacements.
Add on top of that the fact that these three-dimensional wads of meat would have to be exercised regularly with stretching machinery, essentially elaborate meat gyms, and you can begin to understand the incredible challenge of scaling in vitro meat.
Cell culture is hideously expensive, not to mention technically difficult. Even beyond this mechanical engineering issue, when we consider the other raw materials, the nutrients that will feed and sustain these stem cells as they grow into our dinner, the large-scale sustainability of in vitro meat can be called into question.
In fact, of all the fantastic claims of lab-grown meat, the most far-fetched given current technology is that in vitro meat will be cruelty-free. Of course, many tissue engineers are trying to come up with cheaper and cruelty-free alternatives to fetal calf serum.
Algae is currently a much-trumpeted replacement: Algae are remarkable organisms, and they are especially important because their photosynthetic efficiency, the rate at which they convert sunlight into sugars, is significantly higher than plants like corn.
This efficiency allows for the production of the same amount of stuff in a much smaller area, with fewer inputs. Scaling, it turned out, killed these plans the last time we tried them. Scaling algae production in open ponds proved an enormous challenge, with the gains in efficiency fading as the controlled environment of the lab was traded for ponds where cells crowded and shaded each other while having to fight off infections and predators.
At the same time as algae failed to deliver, the Green Revolution significantly improved yields of conventional crops, and algae was slowly transformed into a specialty product rather than the base of the food pyramid. The real issue is the ever-growing demand for meat, and our unwillingness to eat less of it, regardless of the environmental cost.
Perhaps someday soon we will be able to outgrow our taste for flesh, not by producing it artificially or by genetically engineering people to be disgusted by meat another far-out fix but by changing the price of meat to reflect its true environmental cost.
Meat image via Shutterstockcell culture image via Shutterstock.People find it hard to think about these terms in the absence of any real alternative. I think [lab-grown meat] will change our attitude to animal welfare. Those issues are there today but we. Aug 31, · Meanwhile, the American Meat Science Association — an organization focused on the science of producing and processing animal-based meat — worries that the term “meat” may inaccurately suggest that lab-grown protein is as safe and nutritious as traditional meat.
Sep 25, · Watch video · The reception was promising: The media was abuzz, and the BBC made several food critics try it, one of whom conceded "this is meat to me, it's not falling apart." Now, Post is working to overcome some of lab-grown meat's biggest obstacles, including its price. And he believes it's only a short matter of time before he succeeds.
Apr 24, · Given the environmental toll of factory farming it’s easy to see why people get excited about the idea of meat grown in a lab, without fertilizer, feed corn, or burps. A large-scale study, where the entire life cycle of producing meat traditionally versus in a lab, would need to be done to measure the true effects.
Currently, lab-grown meat costs are also too expensive to .
|Artificial chicken grown from cells gets a taste test—but who will regulate it? | Science | AAAS||But the test tube burger, rolled out to the press inhas helped put a spotlight on the question of how the U. So far, none of these synthetic foods has reached the marketplace.|
Lab grown meat would not contain residues of pesticides (applied to the animals to control insects), no tranquillizers, no de-wormers. For now, though, lab-grown meats still require the use of.