Test-tube meat soon - scientist

2012-02-20 13:22
Vancouver - The world's first "test-tube" meat, a hamburger made from a cow's stem cells, will be produced this year, Dutch scientist Mark Post told a major science conference on Sunday.

Post's aim is to invent an efficient way to produce skeletal muscle tissue in a laboratory that exactly mimics meat, and eventually replace the entire meat-animal industry.

The ingredients for his first burger are "still in a laboratory phase", he said, but "we have committed ourselves to make a couple of thousand of small tissues, and then assemble them into a hamburger".

Post, chair of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said his project is funded with €250 000 from an anonymous private investor motivated by "care for the environment, food for the world, and interest in life-transforming technologies".

Post spoke at a symposium titled "The Next Agricultural Revolution" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Global vegetarian diet

Speakers said they aim to develop such "meat" products for mass consumption to reduce the environmental and health costs of conventional food production.

Conventional meat and dairy production requires more land, water, plants and disposal of waste products than almost all other human foods, they said.

The global demand for meat is expected to rise by 60% by 2050, said American scientist Nicholas Genovese, who organised the symposium.

"But the majority of earth's pasture lands are already in use," he said, so conventional livestock producers can only meet the booming demand by further expansion into nature.

The result would be lost biodiversity, more greenhouse and other gases, and an increase in disease, he said.

In 2010 a report by the United Nations Environment Program called for a global vegetarian diet.

"Animal farming is by far the biggest ongoing global catastrophe," Patrick Brown of the Stanford University School of Medicine told reporters.

"More to the point, it's incredibly ready to topple... it's inefficient technology that hasn't changed fundamentally for millennia," he said.

"There's been a blind spot in the science and technology community [of livestock production] as an easy target."

Brown, who said he is funded by an American venture capital firm and has two start-ups in California, said he will devote the rest of his life to develop products that mimic meat but are made entirely from vegetable sources.

He is working "to develop and commercialise a product that can compete head on with meat and dairy products based on taste and value for the mainstream consumer, for people who are hard-core meat and cheese lovers who can't imagine ever giving that up, but could be persuaded if they had a product with all taste and value".

Brown said developing meat from animal cells in a laboratory will still have a high environmental cost, and so he said he will rely only on plant sources.

Both scientists said no companies in the existing meat industry have expressed interest.
Read more on:    research

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Prince George the green prince?

Prince Charles hopes his grandson's love of the outdoors will become a passion for the environment.



One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer
Hurricanes, earthquakes and floods – What climate change really means for us

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The pace may be slow today and you may struggle to get things off the ground level, but it is important to focus on the structure...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.