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Scientists Work To Grow Meat In a Lab

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the sounds-delicious dept.

Biotech 376

codeman07 writes "In a small laboratory on an upper floor of the basic science building at the Medical University of South Carolina, Vladimir Mironov, M.D., Ph.D., has been working for a decade to grow meat. A developmental biologist and tissue engineer, Dr. Mironov, 56, is one of only a few scientists worldwide involved in bioengineering 'cultured' meat. It's a product he believes could help solve future global food crises resulting from shrinking amounts of land available for growing meat the old-fashioned way... on the hoof. Growth of 'in-vitro' or cultured meat is also underway in the Netherlands, Mironov told Reuters in an interview, but in the United States, it is science in search of funding and demand."

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meat in lab, like in "enlarge your ..."?$ (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065532)

nt

Damn academics (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065536)

Make higher quality meat than most of the current producers (that's not hard, we're not talking wagyu here) and do it cheaper than them (and that *really* shouldn't be hard, you're basically making beer here).

Economics will do the rest.

Re:Damn academics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065834)

do it cheaper than them (and that *really* shouldn't be hard, you're basically making beer here)

Can you really imagine all those industries involved in producing "traditional" meat to just watch and do nothing about it? All those multi-trillion dollar industries? Livestock/crops/feedingstuff/etc. corporations (especially notoriously corrupt ones like Monsanto) will not sit idly by. They will lobby for so many regulations, restrictions, bogus studies and whatnot, so that "grown" meat won't be competitive.

Re:Damn academics (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065852)

More likely they'll just perfect the techniques and patent them.

You cannot contain a disruptive innovation (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066110)

They will lobby for so many regulations, restrictions, bogus studies and whatnot, so that "grown" meat won't be competitive.

They tried regulating [wikipedia.org] they tried patenting [wikipedia.org] , they failed to prevent all the industries involved in "traditional" transportation from becoming obsolete.

Re:Damn academics (3, Insightful)

georgesdev (1987622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065882)

I'll be 100 in 2060. May I ask that this "invention" waits until then to hit the shops. Seriously, people pretend to do this for the sake of ecology. But I see this as the opposite of ecology. Plus it reminds me of the ersatz people made during the second world war (sugar from tissue, etc ...)

Re:Damn academics (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066078)

Make higher quality meat than most of the current producers (that's not hard, we're not talking wagyu here) and do it cheaper than them (and that *really* shouldn't be hard, you're basically making beer here).

Economics will do the rest.

You've got it wrong, buddy, the "economy doing the rest" I mean. Here's my take on the "faith in the economy at work" (I dare you to prove me wrong, with real-world examples in the last 10 years):

1. set up the process to produce meant and do it at a good enough quality (don;t care even to do it at "higher than most of the producers", the trick is: you don't need to. Don't believe me? Continue reading)

2. outsource the production plants to India/China. This is how they'll become cheaper (and the associated env impact NIMBY, who cares that some people the other side of the globe commit suicide [gizmodo.com] or are poisoned [chinahush.com] in the process?)

3. create the MeatMart chain of stores to distribute the product to US. Macas and BurgerKing will be quite happy to have a slice of it (better said "a mince of it")... after all, their most stable consumers don't care if it can be made to taste reasonable (read: "deep fried and/or full of saturated fats, MSG and other flavor enhancers"), it's dirt cheap and comes in supersized serves (now they'll be able to have it HYPERSIZED for the same price).

4. drive into the ground the US farmers, by I-don't-know-what-miracle (hormones and mexican workforce in slaughter-houses?) they still manage somehow to produce excess of beef carcases for the export (7.2 percent in 2009 [usda.gov] ).. That's simply unacceptable, better drive them 9 feet under, they'll be quiet and won't get to use their shotguns the X-th amendment allows them to bear for just-in-case

5. ... profit... (what else).

As extension, whine hard about taxes and use some of your (untaxed, in a Cayman Island bank) profit to sponsor the Tea Party, lobby the Congress and fuel another bubble (at your choice, but don't try another house bubble as yet: the "economics" isn't now quite on the "build and they'll come" side)

Re:Damn academics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066102)

Make higher quality meat than most of the current producers (that's not hard, we're not talking wagyu here) and do it cheaper than them (and that *really* shouldn't be hard, you're basically making beer here).

The problem isn't that we don't have enough farm/ranch land, the problem is that we're building cities on top of it. Hell, when the US put in the Interstate Highway system we ruined multiple millions of acres of prime farm land. The reason why our roads used to be so twisty and winding is that we used to build our roads around the good crop land.... now we just plow it all under and built the straightest road so people can drive faster, which ruins most of the land. The fragments which are left over usually aren't large enough to warrant growing crops or use as grazing land.

Economics will do the rest.

Well they already are. We value that land more highly for building homes and shopping malls than for food, and until the price of the food reaches a point where it's more profitable to farm than sell off for development people are just going to keep selling their land.

"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065540)

It's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it? That would look great on the front of any packaged meat. In fact, sales will probably skyrocket. End sarcasm. I would really like to see how they would manage to market that, though.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (3, Interesting)

Tukz (664339) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065560)

If it contains all the minerals, proteins, aminoacids and generally all the qualities of regular meat, I don't give a damn what's on the label.
Though, I'd think they give it some catchy name or catch phrase.

"I can't believe it's not meat!"

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065598)

Likewise. If they started putting this in fast food, people wouldn't care any more than they care that their current chicken nuggets are only 10% chicken or whatever. In fact this would probably make fast food slightly more appealing.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (3, Insightful)

ProbablyJoe (1914672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065862)

That's the thing, people go crazy about genetically modified food, think it's wrong and evil, and refuse to eat it. And yet, the same people will gladly eat fast food that has far worse stuff in it. Clearly, McDonalds is far more trustworthy than science. Sigh.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065578)

Drop the bio-engineered part.
Just call it cultured meat.
Or invent some new label like they did with biological produce.
Or best of all just sell it as cheap meat.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (2)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065728)

Taco Filling?

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (2)

Vlobulle (1286874) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065608)

Easy: make it cheaper than the cheapest meat you can currently find in your average supermarket.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065680)

Easy: make it cheaper than the cheapest meat you can currently find in your average supermarket.

It would probably have to be as cheap as the "meat substitutes" to sell, as it would be seen by consumers as fake in the same way as the soya-based alternatives.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066132)

It would probably have to be as cheap as the "meat substitutes" to sell, as it would be seen by consumers as fake in the same way as the soya-based alternatives.

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. Let the average consumer stick to his "tofu is only for hippies, real men eat meat" bullshit if it means cheaper stuff for me. I love to cook (meat, tofu, babies, whatever). The more options I have the better. If it's less expensive because of negative marketing I don't give a damn about, all the better :)

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065616)

roast beast sandwich

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065620)

Sarcasm aside, if it will give starving people a chance at a meal, good for them. I doubt it would be cost effective though. Something about growing meat in a lab doesn't sound cheap.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (2, Informative)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065724)

Something about growing meat in a lab doesn't sound cheap.

The problem with killing an animal for meat is that a hell of a lot of resources go into growing bits you can't eat just to get a single harvest, although those bits are not without their uses; and requires a lot of land to raise them, even more so if you are looking for ethical farming methods because you have to consider psychological wellbeing rather than just physical wellbeing.

Growing meat in a factory rather than in a field means you can provide just the nutrients needed to grow the bits you actually want to eat, don't require much space and even that space which is needed (however big the VATs and supporting machinery is) can be used more efficently because you can stack the machines into a multistorey building making for a tiny footprint of land use.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (2)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065816)

It's an ethically interesting question. If the solution is as simple as building multi-story meat growing labs to save space, what happens if it is found out that eating this stuff gives you some kind of nano-enhanced synthetic cancer or something?

By that point, the world population is going to be quite a bit larger and even more difficult to feed through contemporary methods, meaning people will have to choose between dying of malnutrition or dying from mega-disease. And for what? Because it's responsible of us to treat our food animals ethically?

We could just forget the whole ethical treatment thing and figure out how to make giant multi-story real animal farms instead. Hell, plug them into the Matrix or something so they at least think they're just chillin' in some serene mountain meadow.

That said, this last part isn't for any of you, but for some person finding this post in a random search for "nano-enhanced synthetic cancer" decades or centuries from now. I warned them, don't blame me.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065962)

Your multistory cow and vat grown meat are both genetically engineered animals, no real fundamental differences in the methods necessary to create them or their potential side effects.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (2)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066024)

You are talking about a hypothetical disease from a not quite ready product and use it as an argument as to why it shouldn't be used. Great logic.
By the same logic, let's assume the synthetic meat not only is cheaper to produce, it also tastes better and since it has less fat in it, is healthier. Now you get something that is both healthy and reduces the need to kill cows. Now people need to choose between dying of malnutrition or living a life without hunger. And you get ethical treatment of cows as a by-product.
Sounds great!

The fact of the matter is , there is no finished product yet, but since we are talking about taking meat from cows, culturing it and getting much more meat, I don't see why it should harbor some mystical cancer in it. Guess we should just wait-and-see.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (4, Insightful)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065938)

People in the world are starving not because of a lack of world food production, but political situations most of the time.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065628)

Maybe it's not for you. There are over 6 billion people on earth - most of whom would benefit from this.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065704)

Maybe it's not for you. There are over 6 billion people on earth - most of whom would benefit from this.

Would they really? I would think the only people to benefit would be the people who can almost afford meat.For the rest, soya, lentils, chana, and other high-protein crops will still be the cheapest way to maintain a balanced diet.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065832)

.. cause what passes for farming these days will really survive the ability to make food the same way we currently make beer.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065948)

.. cause what passes for farming these days will really survive the ability to make food the same way we currently make beer.

And look at the inputs into beer - barley, hops, yeast. I find it very unlikely that all the input nutrients will be synthesised from inorganic sources.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066032)

Your imagination.. try using it sometime.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065636)

Please, then, stick with your steroid-injected, BSE-ridden, hormone-packed, coloured, flavoured, seasoned, salted, vitamin-fortified, water-engorged joints of meat that are currently on the shelf.

The problem with people who *won't* buy "genetically modified", non-organic etc. foods is that they have no idea what they are *currently* eating anyway.

Growing "clean" meat in a lab sounds a good way to produce cheap meat for actually *feeding* people, e.g. developing countries, without needing to have acres of perfectly-good farmland dedicated to producing enough feed to sustain a whole herd of animals for years in order to slaughter one at a later date.

It would also work well for "essentials" meat, such as superstore value ranges for people who can only just afford it. I think I'd rather eat a generic, clean meat than the cheap offcuts of the cheapest animal, packaged in the cheapest possible way - especially if there are no possible BSE, etc. problems with it.

And meat production currently causes 18% of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions, and for various meats we push somewhere between 4 and 54 times the amount of energy into producing meat than we get in useful protein from the meat.

I don't give a shit what it says on the packet - and a bit of honesty would go a long way with me, in fact, rather than misleading and inaccurate statements like "organic" or "diet" or "reduced sugar" etc. - as long as it's edible. That doesn't mean I'd eat it for every meal but as a cheap way to get the energy I need to survive when I don't have much money? Bring it on.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065812)

> It would also work well for "essentials" meat

No meat is essential... there are plenty of alternative sources of protein that are more practical to produce and do not require refrigerated storage.

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065708)

Can't be any harder than "Processed Cheese Food"

Re:"Bio-engineered 'cultured' meat" (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065782)

My personal guess would be low fat, cruelty free.

Fish farms, smaller animals (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065974)

As far as I'm concerned this is old technology and called fish farming mainly, though I believe raising smaller animals, also may be an improvement over cattle in terms of carbon produced per-pound of meat.

Old news (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065552)

Nice to see that Mironov is still getting some attention, but this story is at least five years old. I wrote a feature story about lab-grown meat almost six years ago for the Village Voice, which goes into much more detail than the Reuters piece: http://www.villagevoice.com/2005-07-26/art/brave-new-hamburger/

Re:Old news (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065682)

OT: but I wonder how much time gets wasted every day by people who don't link their... uh... links. I mean, I know it only takes a few clicks to copy+paste+go in the address bar of a new tab, but a few seconds extra times however many people do that every day... it's gotta be something. Not trying to rude or anything, just genuinely curious.

Oh, and http://www.villagevoice.com/2005-07-26/art/brave-new-hamburger/ [villagevoice.com]

Re:Old news (1)

PrimordialSoup (1065284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066050)

not so anonymous now, are you ? Geeta Dayal! *gasp* a women on slashdot !!!

Genetically engineer plants to grow it as fruit.. (3, Funny)

autonomouse (1203262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065568)

...then we can call it "Bo-vine"

Re: Genetically engineer plants to grow it as frui (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065696)

Or even Oh-Vine!!! I'd buy that from a vending machine!

Re: Genetically engineer plants to grow it as frui (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065746)

Banana meat.

Re: Genetically engineer plants to grow it as frui (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065976)

But we only have only a few banana plants left, their are no new banana plants anymore. We actually can not create any new species, because we can not grow any new plants anymore.

All banana come from the same few 'plants' through the process of 'cutting' (not sure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutting_(plant) [wikipedia.org] ).

We messed that one up already.

If their is a banana-plant disease which spreads easily there will be no more banana's.

Re: Genetically engineer plants to grow it as frui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066028)

That's actually a wives tale; there are loads of other edible banana species; they'll just taste different.

Ethically Delicious (2, Interesting)

JudgeSlash (823985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065576)

It would be nice to say, one day, that the steak you are eating came from the last cow to die (be sequenced?) for human consumption. I for one welcome our cultured bovine over-done-lords.

Re:Ethically Delicious (0)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065604)

Sadly, this might happen quite soon, before this technology matures. Just look at terrorists from PETA being tax-exempt and receiving tax money instead of being banned.

Re:Ethically Delicious (1)

JudgeSlash (823985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065646)

I find it incredibly difficult to see how people concerned for the welfare of animals could possibly be against this technology. Besides this opens up other exciting culinary possibilities... like long pork! ;)

Reasons to vote against (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065786)

I find it incredibly difficult to see how people concerned for the welfare of animals could possibly be against this technology. Besides this opens up other exciting culinary possibilities... like long pork! ;)

If there is no reason for human cultivation of said animals, there will be no need to keep a population of any size and the same animals will join the panda on the endangered list....

Re:Reasons to vote against (1)

JudgeSlash (823985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065884)

If there is no reason for human cultivation of said animals, there will be no need to keep a population of any size and the same animals will join the panda on the endangered list....

I would hazard a guess that most animals on the endangered list aren't there because of human over-consumption but rather habitat destruction due to increased human population. So I imagine that whilst this tech allows us to continue feeding ourselves with presumably less resources, this will confound the habitat destruction due to human overpopulation. Oh well... there's always soylent green.

Re:Reasons to vote against (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065926)

We engineered those meat-species into existence, I don't think it would be a terrible thing if we allowed them to slide toward the brink of extinction. But that won't happen anyway.

Vat meat will never 100% replace hoof-meat. Of course governments might try to legislate against hoof-meat, but since when did banning anything ever stop it completely?

There will always be a segment of the market who perceives hoof-meat as somehow superior (even if it can be proved that it isn't - see monster cables for proof of this) and will cheerfully pay a premium for it. In fact this perception will be enhanced if hoof-meat is more expensive than vat-meat. People prepared to pay extra for hoof rather than vat will happily pay extra again for organic/ethical hoof over factory-farmed hoof. So those farm animals that do remain can expect a better quality of life than the vast majority of farm animals living today.

And that's fine. If we could free up 95% of the resources currently devoted to cattle-raising and put it to other uses, while still keeping a small number of traditional farms alive (and ensuring that all, or nearly all, of those use ethical farming practices), well that sounds like a win-win to me.

All this makes me think of Elite 2: Frontier, where the cargo you could buy included vat meat and (more expensive) real meat, and the real stuff was illegal in some systems.

Ethically unpalatable (2)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065850)

I'm not concerned about welfare of animals, I am concerned about taste and my health. Plus, I am concerned about my tax money going to scum who break into research labs and assault scientists, making it less likely we'll see cures to many diseases, aging and the like in my lifetime. If you have some weird semi-religious views, follow them yourself, but if I am to suffer because of you, I object.

Re:Ethically unpalatable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065934)

"I'm not concerned about welfare of animals,"

That says it all. Sorry, but someone with that attitude is utter scum in my books. Why not base your ethical views on scientific principles like sentience and capacity for suffering instead of some quasi-religious species superiority?

You can't say animal can be abused *just because they are of a different species*. There has to be some attributes of the species membership that makes this so (like inability to suffer).

Re:Ethically unpalatable (1)

JudgeSlash (823985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065982)

If you're concerned about taste and health then which version of meat do you think would be more likely to be controlled for flavour and health giving properties: the uncontrolled environment of an animal wandering about in a field or the controlled environment of a vat?

I don't see how this has anything to do with PETA actually.

Also I am certainly not religious, and even take offence at the thought, but yet again I fail to see how that has anything to do with your ability to choose where your cut of animal flesh originates from.

Re:Ethically Delicious (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065802)

Uh, sorry to burst your bubble of cows dancing free in the surf but I doubt people are going to keep cows for pets after we eliminate their need as a food source.

All that will be left of cows is dairy herds...until we learn how to replace that too, and then I doubt there will be many cows at all except in zoos. Modern breeds will hardly thrive in the 'wild'.

Also, what ethical problem is there is eating meat ?!?

Re:Ethically Delicious (1)

JudgeSlash (823985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065914)

Also, what ethical problem is there is eating meat ?!?

There's not a problem per se, more of an ethical gradient. Given the choice between meat that has been grown in a vat and meat that has been obtained by the death of an animal, I would choose the vat meat.

Re:Ethically Delicious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066014)

I'm perfectly OK with cows dying to be in my plate. And I don't think they live a bad life where I live, most of them are grass fed, in mild weather, they get a couple of good years before serving their purpose in life: to be barbecued with wood, like the FSM wanted it.

After all, cows are domestic, so the only natural thing to happen to them, besides consumption, is extinction. Do you want cows to just disappear?

Marketable to Vegetarians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065584)

I wonder what the general stance would be.

Re:Marketable to Vegetarians? (1)

sixthousand (676886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065614)

Vegetarianism isn't a bool.

Re:Marketable to Vegetarians? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066048)

True

Re:Marketable to Vegetarians? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066134)

Vegetarianism isn't a bull.

FTFY

Re:Marketable to Vegetarians? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065648)

Depends if they don't eat meat for humane reasons or because they don't like the taste.

Re:Marketable to Vegetarians? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065956)

Or for health reasons, or for sustainability reasons. If it's purely for ethical reasons, they'll probably welcome this. If it's for the taste, then this will be no use. For health reasons, it depends. Vat-grown meat may well be lower in fat, and if it's grown in a properly controlled environment should be completely free of diseases[1]. Sustainability is difficult to judge. It's hard to tell what the energy and environmental costs of mass-produced factory food will be, relative to other options. Finally, some people just aren't good ate metabolising meat. A significant fraction of the population stops producing the enzymes required to break down animal proteins after a few weeks of not eating meat. A (much) smaller fraction don't produce these enzymes at all.

Most vegetarians are vegetarian for some combination of two or more of these factors, with different weighting. Exactly what the combination is depends on the individual.

[1] There's a reason Judaism and Islam prohibit the eating of pig - the genetic similarity between pigs and humans makes it very easy for diseases to jump the species barrier, so the religions that prohibited eating pork had followers who were more likely to survive and breed.

Re:Marketable to Vegetarians? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066066)

But it would be nice to see the excuses they come up with to resolve the cognitive dissonance. I mean, will they be honest and say "there is no ethical problem with eating vat meat, but I personally don't like the taste," or will they find some stupid excuse why it is also not ethical to eat vat meat. Could be an interesting social experiment.

Treat the disease not the symptom... (3)

sixthousand (676886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065590)

Hunger and starvation isn't a production issue, its a distribution issue. If we're facing an inevitable meat scarcity resulting from land shortages perhaps the first solution to consider would be constructing fewer hamburger bioengineering laboratories.

Re:Treat the disease not the symptom... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065652)

No matter how you slice(ha!) it, creating meat consumes more food than it provides. Something like a ratio of 20:1 in the case of beef, not to mention all the greenhouse gases emitted by raising animals for slaughter.

Re:Treat the disease not the symptom... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065742)

It's worth it. Not that I don't support the idea of lab-grown meat, though.

Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (3, Funny)

Rinnon (1474161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065610)

What are Vegetarians going to do when this comes out? It'll throw the WHOLE damn system out of whack! "Sorry, is that a Vegetarian Friendly Steak? Great! Medium-Rare."

Re:Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065740)

What are Vegetarians going to do when this comes out? It'll throw the WHOLE damn system out of whack! "Sorry, is that a Vegetarian Friendly Steak? Great! Medium-Rare."

I can see people going both ways. Ethical vegetarians would probably decide based on whether there was an ongoing need for real animals, the testing needed, etc. Environmental vegetarians would look at the impact compared to crop growing and make a rational decision. Those who just don't like meat (my mum is in this category) won't bother trying it.

Re:Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066004)

As soon as this tech nears the market expect a massive astro-turfed movement to appear, secretly funded by the existing meat industries, screaming that vat-meat is full of "chemicals" and "hormones" and cancer and the ground-up toes of orphaned african babies and should be avoided at all costs, lest we all be transmogrified into huge pulsating cubes of wheezing synthetic tumour, moulded to our armchairs.

Obviously this campaign will be aimed at existing carnivores (particularly the organic / ethical food types), but the veggies will pick it up and run with it and make it their own. Result: Very few vegetarians will add vat-meat to their diets.

Re:Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066042)

Ethical vegetarians ... indeed.
Industrial production of non-animal meat and other animal products would probably mean near-extinction of remaining flocks and herds. Once they are economically unworthy, and being unable to survive in natural environment without humans, doom is up for most domesticated species. The owners will slaughter remaining animals and sell them bellow price of "factory meat" to recover part of their expenses.

Re:Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066068)

Ethical vegetarians ... indeed. Industrial production of non-animal meat and other animal products would probably mean near-extinction of remaining flocks and herds. Once they are economically unworthy, and being unable to survive in natural environment without humans, doom is up for most domesticated species. The owners will slaughter remaining animals and sell them bellow price of "factory meat" to recover part of their expenses.

As opposed to doing this in a repeating cycle over and over again.

Re:Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066080)

Environmental vegetarians would look at the impact compared to crop growing and make a rational decision.

I hope they make a rational decision. God knows many times these organisations choose an ideological path, and don't let logic and evidence stand in their way.

Re:Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065776)

That question tells me more about you than about vegetarians.

PETA has already given it its blessing (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065800)

In fact, they're offering a cool million bucks for the first company to bring it to market [slate.com] .

It seems to me that only those who abstain from meat for a particular type of religious and health reasons concerning the nature of animal flesh would have any desire to avoid meat grown in a lab. That's probably a very small subset of vegetarians.

Re:Won't someone think of the Vegitarians!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065996)

What are Vegetarians going to do when this comes out?

Why should we do anything at all?

Look, there's at least four kinds of vegetarians: those who don't eat meat for ethical reasons, those who don't eat meat because they feel that the energy investment isn't justified in light of the sheer number of people living (and starving) on the planet, those that don't eat meat for health reasons (real or imagined), and, last not least, those that don't eat meat because they don't like the taste.

The first kind will arguably be happy with this. Lab-grown meat means no suffering and no killing, so yay, everything's great.

The second kind will probably take a long hard look at the energy investment needed to grow this stuff, but I imagine that when they do, they'll find that it's OK - after all, all the energy is used on actually growing usable meat here, rather than supporting the whole animal that comes with it otherwise, for years. So again, no problem in principle.

The third kind may or may not eat this stuff. Those that think that meat is unhealthy in principle will continue to do so; those that are worried about, say, salmonella may or may not continue to worry; and those that have actual conditions that keep them from eating meat, well, they're still going to have those conditions (although maybe it would also be possible to lab-grow meat that doesn't trigger them, kinda like you have lactose-free milk etc. now). Either way, they, too, wouldn't have a problem with it in principle,.

The fourth kind wouldn't eat it, but obviously wouldn't have a problem with it.

So there you have it. Of course not everyone's gonna be happy about it immediately - there's cognitive bias, and people tend to cling to beliefs they have even in the face of new developments. But give it some time, and everything will be fine.

And in the meantime, please don't paint vegetarians with such a broad brush, eh?

"GM" and public acceptance (1)

binarstu (720435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065622)

I can imagine that some folks who are strongly opposed to "GM" crops and animals might actually be more accepting of this technology. For one thing, there wouldn't be the concern about modified organisms polluting natural populations with their engineered genes or escaping and propagating in the wild. Furthermore, I can see fewer potential ethical arguments against culturing meat-like food in a factory compared to engineering real, live animals and raising them on factory farms.

Re:"GM" and public acceptance (1)

BlackSabbath (118110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065796)

Might there be "mono-culture" type problems arising? Presumably the source cell cultures for industrial scale production would come from a limited (maybe even a single?) genetic line. The kinds of bacteria that love meat as much as us would have a standing target to evolve against.

Of course I have no real idea as I'm not a biologist. Anybody qualified to answer?

Say it with me people... (1)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065666)

Say it with me people, the "food crisis" is a political (and to a lesser extent, economical) problem, not a scientific problem.

You can throw a fuck load of science behind it, and it's unlikely to help as many as you think it will.

However, I do like this research, and would love to eat that kind of meat. Finally we could rid ourselves of the scourge that is... the cow.

Or to put it another way... the cow belongs in a museum!

Re:Say it with me people... (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065788)

But whether the environmental crisis is a political or economical one, the solution is going to be scientific. People are just not going to stop eating meat and the way we currently grow it is a huge waste of... well everything.

If we environmentally taxed everything properly (eg tax = the cost of fixing the damage done in making the product) then while people in the supermarket might be thinking "vat meat... ew!", they also be thinking "hmmm... steak from cow, $49.99/kg... vat meat, $9.99/kg... I guess i've eaten worse".

Re:Say it with me people... (1)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065836)

Sure. But you're producing a solution for the extreme future, without resolving a solution for the current problem.

Also, if we can't solve the political / economical problem, then we sure as hell can't solve the future problem of extreme scarcity.

Re:Say it with me people... (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066086)

Say it with me people, the "food crisis" is a political (and to a lesser extent, economical) problem, not a scientific problem.

"The 'food crisis' is a political..." Sorry, you should come up with better tag-line. Not catchy enough.

Fast food (2, Interesting)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065676)

I'd definitely eat it :) I think an end product wouldn't differ much (from a taste and texture point of view) from a McDonald's chicken nugget with how highly processed that stuff is. One question though. In order to get the texture right (not a chicken nugget, but a side of steak) wouldn't you need to somehow exercise the muscle tissue? Subject it to some kind of mechanical stress? This would seem to be an important part of the development of the tissue, with the cows moving about for a large part of their life (or just standing if in a factory farm). And about the "yuck factor". Try killing, gutting and skinning your own meat :) I used to watch my grandfather skin and gut a rabbit, the smell alone was hardly tolerable.

Re:Fast food (2)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065718)

Rabbits, goats and sheep do stink up to high heaven. Other things are much more tolerable.
Exercise is needed, indeed, for texture. So far it's been done as a combination of electroshock and (mild) mechanical stress.

Re:Fast food (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065826)

There's a genetic anomaly present in some people/animals that causes muscle mass to bulk up with little to no exercise. IIRC it was some myostatin 'flaw'. I'm sure they're hard at work to try and muck around with the genetics to literally just grow it in a vat. No exercise, no electroshock, nothing.

Myself, I can't wait :)

Re:Fast food (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065952)

I'm sure it is being researched, for efficiency reasons. However, muscle mass and muscle "definition" (read:texture) aren't one and the same, as any bodybuilder will be happy to explain to you in excruciating detail.

Re:Fast food (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066140)

I believe you refer to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy [wikipedia.org] , a genetic disease cause by a mutation in the gene for one of the structural proteins in the muscle. They kids having this disease do have bulky-looking muscles, but it is not really muscle tissue but actually fatty tissue and the phenomenon is called pseudohypertrophy (hypertrophy is when a tissue gains mass; pseudo- - you get the gist of it).

Re:Fast food (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065860)

I had some farmers and gardeners in the family. Have you seen the shit and fertilizer that goes into vegetables? Now compare that to clean meat...

In Soviet Russia... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065760)

In Soviet Russia, Scientists Grow Meat In Lab.

In Bubble America, Lab Meat Decays For Science [stinkymeat.net] .

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1)

Xserv (909355) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066090)

Good try... I'm rather partial to: "In Soviet Russia, the meat grows you."

Ethical Dilemma,A scifi story (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065804)

I forgot the authors name, probably it was an Asimov story? I am not sure.
This story is set in the far future, where killing of animals has stopped, and you can have lab grown meat in every flavor (cow, lamb, chicken etc.,). One company with best flavors dominates the market, with many exotic animal flavor meat on sale.

However, a new company comes in with a meat that tastes the best, and the old leader starts losing sales.
The owner decides to do some research, and then files a suit in the parliament.

The members of parliament want to shrug off the suit, but give him a hearing.
He starts explaining with images of animals being killed that how their ancestors used to kill animals.
Many MPs faint and squirm.

Then he goes farther back to history when he shows slides of cannibalism. the entire parliament erupts, with MPs vomiting and fainting at the very thought. They want to throw him out.

At the end of the story he reveals what he has found. the new company is producing meat which tastes like human flesh. Thats why its the tastiest meat.
Anybody remember the story name or Author?

Re:Ethical Dilemma,A scifi story (3, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065856)

Arthur C Clarke, The Food of the Gods

Electric Meat (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065840)

They can save a heap on advertising with existing Kenny Everett footage [youtube.com]

shrinking amounts of land available (3, Insightful)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065842)

Interesting, however it still smells of a solution looking for a problem. Though the reflex might be to believe that there is no land to grow beef ( or any other meat ), due to factors such as urban sprawl, we have yet to conquer major portions of this earth with city as yet. There is still plenty of land from which to graze. It should not be a surprise, in this day and age of "everything is a potential catastrophe and you should really watch this documentary" has anyone yet mentioned that we might run out of grazing land? Have you seen the desolation which is Idaho which is mostly grazing land?

To get back to the point; We have decommissioned much of the land due to economic factors and increases in efficiency ( really the same ). I believe this kind of solution may be profitable at some point, we are at least 50 years from it, and related technology will have morphed a bit by then - so its really just speculative.

The business side of me suspects they may find it easier to say something like "zero emission pork". Funding will start to flow their way. If they can get to the point where they can claim this, the market will be ready made to the point of charging 3 - 4 times as much as organic meat. People are silly that way. At least those that are middle-middle class to upper-middle class will pay for it. The rest wont care and will buy the 'classic' type.

Wait, I am just brainstorming here... Do you think they can knock off Kobe beef? There might be an angle to this.

Why? (1)

Therilith (1306561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065872)

Meat would be incredibly wasteful to produce even if they do it in a lab.

If their goal is to "feed the hungry/poor", why use meat at all? There are far cheaper/better/more ethical ways to do it.

Not optimistic (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065874)

I'm guessing the same fear inducing forces that makes folks shy away from food irradiation [isu.edu] will take hold here. Stem cell research gets a lot of attention, even if governments aren't likely to fund it either. But research into synthesizing a food source is just as important as stem cell research, if not more important, considering what a huge issue world hunger is today.

Tastes like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065878)

Despair?

Wendy Meat - Yum! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065906)

Rudy Rucker will like some credit.

grow houses and buildings with meat and muscles (1)

gargamelo (1044456) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065912)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw9s0ivfn3w [youtube.com] saw Mitchell Joachim on TED.com speak about this last year, organic space-ships on sci-fi movies maybe in not so far away as thought.

if it takes millions of people to move one guy.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065920)

just what is a fair day's pay? we're all meat products already, time to eat differently/less as well? rumour has it that everything will have to wait 'till all the hungry babies are fed/we stop killing each other. see you there?

As a "mostly vegetarian"... (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065940)

As a "mostly vegetarian", this story leaves me somewhat confused and challenges my prejudices a bit (of which I'm fully aware of the irrationality). I don't eat meat mainly because of the 'yuck' factor as well as the sometimes questionable moral issues (and also now because I enjoy the taste of Quorn-type products). Still, this breakthrough of growing meat is interesting. No blood or anything like that required?

Better this than insects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066082)

Unless the climate warms enough for the Sahara, Antarctic and Greenland to become useful as arable land, but the warming doesn't seem to happen...

Scientists not just growing meat in the lab (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066104)

The majority of the scientists working in labs around here are just growing fat.
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