A research grown led by Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University have created the first batch of meat grown artificially in a laboratory. Moreover, the meat has been processed, cooked and turned into a burger and consumed. Reviewing an earlier attempt from the same research group, Austrian food researcher Ms Ruetzler noted that the resultant burger: “it’s close to meat, but it’s not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper.”
Based on the apparent success of this process, the Dutch team are hopeful that laboratory grown meat will be available to consumers with five years.
The basis of the process is stem-cells. These cells are the templates from which specialized tissue, like the nerve and skin cells necessary to make meat, are formed.
In order to assess and commercialize the process, the researchers involved are to set-up their own company. The main issue currently is profitability. The burger that formed part of the trial cost a whopping $330,000 to make. However, the researchers think that, in time, the process will lead to a product that costs considerably less than farmed meat.
Talking with the BBC, Professor Peter Verstrate, who was also involved with the study, said: “I feel extremely excited about the prospect of this product being on sale. And I am confident that when it is offered as an alternative to meat that increasing numbers of people will find it hard not to buy our product for ethical reasons”.
In terms of ethical issues, an independent study indicated that laboratory-grown beef uses 45 percent less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle. Such meat also produces 96 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99 percent less land.