One of the age-old questions posed to vegetarians is “if scientists could grow meat in a lab, would you eat it?” Believe it or not, science has actually caught up to that thought-experiment with laboratory-grown beef.
According MSNBC.com, an extravagant entrepreneur is funding the research and work it will take to produce fake beef. The first vision that may come to mind is ‘wheat meat,’ or some vegetarian variation of beef. This is not exactly the same thing. Scientists will take actual bovine stem cells grown in a vat and transform them into a patty.
An anonymous European investor will provide the $330,000 it will take to complete the culture dish burger. University of Maastricht physiologist, Mark Post, says the project could potentially revolutionize the food industry.
Post made the announcement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.
The stem cells in the vat will grow into thin layers of muscle cells, and then they will combine with other bits of lab-grown animal fat into a patty shape. The team is hoping to have the burger, once it is complete, prepared by famous experimental chef Heston Blumenthal.
Post had originally begun to work on the project with a different financial backer. He had first focused on creating laboratory grown sausages using stem cells from pigs.
A concern over growing population numbers and decreasing food supply has some folks very enthusiastic about the possibilities of fake beef. The livestock industry is seen as too land intensive and energy intensive to maintain the increasing conditions.
According to U.N. figures, 30% of the planet’s land mass is used for animal farming. With the demand for meat expected to double over the next 40 years, the artificially made meat could serve as a welcome solution to this forthcoming crisis.
Post said that if they are successful that growing laboratory meat “could reduce the energy expenditure by some 40 percent. PETA also approves using the stem cells for meat as it does not require killing any animals.”
The taste of meat will remain unknown until the mysterious investor tries it. What is known is that the meat will not appear very attractive, with a pinkish-yellow coloring. Samples were already grown in previous experiments; however, they were too small to taste.
Post hopes that the process of producing the meat will be ready by October. This does not mean it will be available for public consumption as that could take up to ten years.