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Here It Comes The $375,000 Lab-Grown Beef Burger
ScienceNOW ^ | 2013-08-02 | Kai Kupferschmidt

Posted on 08/04/2013 3:53:18 PM PDT by neverdem

Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Meet the new meat. Tiny pieces of muscle tissue grown in the lab will make up the patty of the first test-tube burger to be unveiled in London on Monday.

If you take some scientists' word for it, the biggest agricultural revolution since the domestication of livestock is starting on Monday—in an arts center in London. At a carefully orchestrated media event, Dutch stem cell researcher Mark Post is planning to present the world's first test-tube hamburger. Its patty is made from meat that Post has laboriously grown from bovine stem cells in his lab at an estimated cost of $375,000, just to prove a point: that it is possible to produce meat without slaughtering animals.

Some details of Monday's event are still secret, but Ogilvy, the PR agency hired to handle Posts's publicity, says that the meat will be cooked and then eaten by two volunteers in front of an audience of invited journalists. (It also says that Post, who works at Maastricht University, is not available for interviews until then.) Speculation is rife that the anonymous U.S. billionaire who has bankrolled Post's research project will step forward. And of course, there is the biggest question of all: What will the burger taste like?

Artificial meat research has received lots of media attention, yet so far has produced little anyone could actually taste. Scientists in the field are excited but also apprehensive about the upcoming presentation. "The moment could be historic," says Cor van der Weele, a biophilosopher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who has done research on public attitudes toward cultured meat. How people react to the stunt will have huge implications for the future of the research, she says. "If anything unexpected happens, it could backfire."

Henk Haagsman, a veterinary researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands who has collaborated with Post, says that he was initially skeptical of the event; now he thinks it may be the right way to grab the public's attention and raise money for research to propel the field forward. However, the spectacle could eclipse the science, he says: "As soon as it turns into a circus for media, people may mix this up with illusionists or magicians."

The idea of culturing meat in the lab is nothing new. In his essay "Fifty Years Hence" published in 1931, Winston Churchill wrote: "We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium." Modern-day scientists say they know how to fulfill that dream: Stem cells taken from an animal could be cultured and used to grow millions of tons of meat, Post says. In theory, at least, a couple of animals could feed the world.

The benefits could be enormous. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global meat consumption may increase from roughly 228 million tons in 2002 to about 465 million tons in 2050. Cultured meat could vastly reduce animal suffering and stop livestock from taking up huge tracts of land and polluting the atmosphere with methane and other greenhouse gases that they emit. In a 2011 study, scientists at the University of Oxford and the University of Amsterdam estimated that cultured meat may need 35% to 60% less energy, occupy 98% less land, and produce 80% to 95% less greenhouse gases than conventional meat. In an interview late last year with ScienceNOW, Post said he realized the potential of lab-grown meat as soon as he heard about it. "The societal impact it could have is way more than any of my biomedical research of the last 25 years.”

There are many hurdles, however. Despite several attempts, scientists have not been able to culture embryonic stem cells from cattle, pork, or chicken. "So far, we have embryonic stem cells from mice, rats, humans, and monkeys—and that's about it," Haagsman says. One way forward would be to use small molecules to turn adult cow cells into so-called induced pluripotent stem cells that could be used instead, he suggests.

There are other problems: Cultured meat is now grown in medium with fetal calf serum, a supplement made from blood collected at slaughterhouses; scientists have yet to find an alternative that doesn't involve dead animals. Guiding stem cells to develop into muscle cells only is also a difficult task. And as soon as scientists grow a piece of meat more than half a millimeter thick, it will need blood vessels to supply cells with oxygen and nutrients and keep them from dying. A lab-grown rib eye or sirloin steak, with its complicated architecture of muscle fibers and fat cells, is still decades away, Haagsman says.

Instead, Post has gone for minced meat, produced not from embryonic stem cells but from myoblasts, stem cells found in adult muscle tissue to replace dead muscle fibers. He has grown tiny pieces of beef muscle in petri dishes; according to a press release, 20,000 of these shreds are needed to build a 5-ounce burger patty.

"This is not the way we would produce it in the future," Haagsman, in part because myoblasts' ability to divide is more limited than that of embryonic stem cells. Post also doesn't have an alternative for fetal calf serum yet, and differentiation into muscle cells needs to become more efficient, Haagsman says. "This is more of a demonstration project."

Post isn't the only researcher hoping to relocate meat production from the farm to the lab. Gabor Forgacs, a researcher at the University of Missouri, aims to use 3D printing technology to build bigger pieces of meat from muscle cells. Modern Meadows, the company he founded, announced last year that it had received $350,000 from the foundation of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

But in general the field has suffered from "an extreme lack of funding so far," says Van der Weele—which could change after the London event. At the same time, "you could get a general atmosphere that this is a kind of Frankenstein food," she says, adding that much will depend on the words and images the media use to portray the event. To Van der Weele, Monday's burger tasting will not be just an interesting culinary experiment but a psychological one as well.

Kai Kupferschmidt will be live-tweeting from the event. To keep tabs on the latest on artificial meat, follow Kai at @kakape.

A live video feed of the event will be available at www.culturedbeef.net.



TOPICS: Food
KEYWORDS: adultstemcells; artificialmeat; stemcells

1 posted on 08/04/2013 3:53:18 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Better damn well come with fries and a beer.


2 posted on 08/04/2013 3:53:53 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: neverdem

People will be lined up for miles.

I bet the FrankenBurger franchise will pay more than $15 an hour with prices like that.


3 posted on 08/04/2013 3:55:36 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: neverdem
then eaten by two volunteers

Gosh, I'd hope they wouldn't shove it down some poor protesting sclub's throat.

4 posted on 08/04/2013 3:56:10 PM PDT by DManA
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To: neverdem

I’d go vegan before I’d ever eat that shit.


5 posted on 08/04/2013 3:57:26 PM PDT by Farmer Dean (stop worrying about what they want to do to you,start thinking about what you want to do to them)
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To: neverdem

ANYTHING tastes fine with enough salt, sugar and fat on it. :o)


6 posted on 08/04/2013 3:57:32 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: neverdem

Freakin’ gross.


7 posted on 08/04/2013 3:57:59 PM PDT by Sheapdog (Chew the meat, spit out the bones)
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To: Farmer Dean

makes beans and rice look awesome


8 posted on 08/04/2013 3:59:48 PM PDT by GeronL
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To: neverdem
For about $40 at Ruth's Chris you can get a piece of sirloin....*real* animal flesh....that's the most fun you can have with your clothes *on*.
9 posted on 08/04/2013 4:00:49 PM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: cloudmountain

Gimme a bacon burger, hold the burger.


10 posted on 08/04/2013 4:02:47 PM PDT by Lurkina.n.Learnin (If global warming exists I hope it is strong enough to reverse the Big Government snowball)
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To: neverdem

No thanks......... I am going back to the caves.


11 posted on 08/04/2013 4:03:50 PM PDT by Gator113
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To: Coleus; Peach; airborne; Asphalt; Dr. Scarpetta; I'm ALL Right!; StAnDeliver; ovrtaxt; ...
FReepmail me if you want on or off my stem cell/regenerative medicine ping list.
12 posted on 08/04/2013 4:04:46 PM PDT by neverdem (Register pressure cookers! /s)
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To: Farmer Dean
I’d go vegan before I’d ever eat that shit.

I'd go vegan before I'd eat anything served in fast food "restaurants." Latest report says their burgers only contain 3% meat now, the rest is ground up bones, etc.

I had a "chicken" wrap at McDonalds a couple of weeks ago. Got it a the drive thru, drove around the block to go back and hand it to them, "This is the worst excuse for food I ever saw." Chunks of "chicken" had the texture and consistency of soap. Plus, you were supposed to shove your face down into the gawdawful stuff in order to eat it. No way, Jose, no phony meat and no eating like a slob.

13 posted on 08/04/2013 4:05:29 PM PDT by Veto! (Opinions freely expressed as advice)
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To: cloudmountain

4 major food groups: fat, grease, salt, sugar. Mmmmmmmm, baby!


14 posted on 08/04/2013 4:07:14 PM PDT by carriage_hill (Guns kill people, pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk & spoons make you fat.i)
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To: Lurkina.n.Learnin
Gimme a bacon burger, hold the burger.

Them little porkers are nummy, aren't they?

15 posted on 08/04/2013 4:07:41 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: carriage_hill
4 major food groups: fat, grease, salt, sugar. Mmmmmmmm, baby!

Yewww betcha!!

16 posted on 08/04/2013 4:08:42 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: Veto!

“Modern-day scientists say they know how to fulfill that dream: Stem cells taken from an animal could be cultured and used to grow millions of tons of meat, Post says. In theory, at least, a couple of animals could feed the world.”

And those two cows will have mad cow and poison the world.

I’ll stick to Ruth’s Gcris.


17 posted on 08/04/2013 4:08:52 PM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (The reason we own guns is to protect ourselves from those wanting to take our guns from us.)
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To: neverdem

But you’ll be able to order one off the $100,000 value menu.


18 posted on 08/04/2013 4:08:57 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: neverdem

http://cheezburger.com/3196634112


19 posted on 08/04/2013 4:09:06 PM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: neverdem

I dunno, somewhere somebody is still cleaning up their bathroom after the Olestra disaster.


20 posted on 08/04/2013 4:09:57 PM PDT by jiggyboy (Ten percent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: cloudmountain

Yes and so are them cows on the range not a petri dish.


21 posted on 08/04/2013 4:11:19 PM PDT by Lurkina.n.Learnin (If global warming exists I hope it is strong enough to reverse the Big Government snowball)
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To: neverdem
Cultured meat is now grown in medium with fetal calf serum, a supplement made from blood collected at slaughterhouses; scientists have yet to find an alternative that doesn't involve dead animals.

So, in other words, it still involves killing. I am invested in a 3d bioprinter company, so I like the publicity, but this isn't just around the corner. There are many better uses for 3d printed tissue.

Parts is Parts

22 posted on 08/04/2013 4:14:52 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: GeronL

They’re a staple around here. Vinegar too.


23 posted on 08/04/2013 4:16:48 PM PDT by Track9 (hey Kalid.. kalid.. bang you're dead)
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To: neverdem

Take this meat and a laser printer and make me Kobe beef.


24 posted on 08/04/2013 4:26:24 PM PDT by Mike Darancette (Fight the culture of nothing.)
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To: neverdem

So, if they accept the guvmnt debit card, it’s still FREE!!!


25 posted on 08/04/2013 4:30:58 PM PDT by Mark (Obama is more confused than a hungry baby in a topless bar)
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To: Farmer Dean

> I’d go vegan before I’d ever eat that shit.

Agreed. It made me lose my appetite immediately when I saw the pics.


26 posted on 08/04/2013 4:35:17 PM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: neverdem

The ultimate goal is to lock everyone away in cities and feed them stuff like this.


27 posted on 08/04/2013 5:05:36 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Mike Darancette

“Take this meat and a laser printer and make me Kobe beef.”

aka lexmark beef


28 posted on 08/04/2013 5:08:52 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: neverdem

As long as I live where there is an over abundance of elk, I won’t be eating test tube meat.


29 posted on 08/04/2013 5:22:32 PM PDT by pallis
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To: neverdem

30 posted on 08/04/2013 6:10:33 PM PDT by USS Johnston (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke)
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To: neverdem

Heck, at least Soylent Green was made from real people.


31 posted on 08/04/2013 9:28:52 PM PDT by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: Lurkina.n.Learnin
Yes and so are them cows on the range not a petri dish.

What ON EARTH is your point? Who was speaking about experimenting with the cows on the range? Not me.

32 posted on 08/05/2013 3:54:52 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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