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Meat made from stem cells
If they can get the texture and taste right and the price, people would accept this I believe. I actually read about this in a PETA publication several years ago and now it is coming to the fore.
By Madeleine Genner Dec 1, 2009 9:21pm
Animal welfare: experts say there is community interest in meat that doesn't come from farmed animals (AFP: Raul Arboleda )
Tank steak, sci-fi sausage, Frankenburger: some of the possible names researchers have been throwing around for the idea of meat grown in a test tube.
It is no longer a fantasy, though. Researchers in the Netherlands now say they have grown a form of pork in a laboratory.
No-one has yet been brave enough to eat the artificial pork yet. The laboratory pork has been described as soggy, and researchers admit it is not ready for a taste test.
But test-tube meat could be the way of the future.
Jason Matheny, a researcher with food science company New Harvest, told CNN it should taste the same as conventional meat.
"It's made out of the same stuff," he said.
"If we look at the way that our chicken nuggets and our hamburger is produced now, we think we can match that same taste and texture by producing meat in culture.
"[It's] much safer, much more efficient and much healthier for the consumer."
For years, meat scientists have been trying to develop test-tube meat using cells extracted from live animals, and researchers at Eindhoven University in the Netherlands say they have finally succeeded.
Lead researcher professor Mark Post told the Times newspaper: "What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue. We need to find ways of improving it and stretching it, but we will get there."
Brian Kinghorn, professor of quantitative genetics at the University of New England, says meat is likely to be grown in labs in the future.
"There's a lot of interest in the community in being able to have the joys of eating meat without the animal welfare issues surrounding it," he said.
"So it's something which I think people have had their eyes on for quite some time."
Jason Matheny from New Harvest says there are other benefits to lab produced meat.
"Some work they were doing right now at Oxford University suggests that we could reduce by more than 80 per cent the greenhouse gas emissions from meat production by producing meat in vitro, in culture," he said.
"Another great benefit is the public health potential of cultured meat. Right now we suffer very high rates of cardiovascular disease due to the amount of animal fat that we take in from our meat.
"In cultured meat you can precisely control the amount of fat so you could have more of the health fats like Omega 3 and less of the unhealthy fats."
But Professor Kinghorn says it could be difficult to market test-tube pork.
"After all people are designed to eat meat," he said.
"We've evolved to enjoy that and that's something which is going to be rather difficult to replicate effectively in a test tube. But certainly it's an admirable goal."
Gregory Harper is a principal research scientist with the CSIRO's livestock industries division. He is also a director of Meat and Livestock Australia.
While the Dutch scientists have claimed their work is a world first, Gregory Harper says similar research is taking place in other laboratories around the globe.
"There'd be two reasons that people want to go in this direction," he said.
"One is this argument about energetic efficiency, that because human manufacturing technology is a really powerful, rapidly evolving innovation area that we might be able to do this with efficiency. I mean, I just really doubt that.
"The other is a quite interesting argument about this might be something that vegetarians prefer. I actually again don't buy that one.
"I think that most people who are vegetarian are making a decision based on some ethical arguments and preferences that they express themselves and this sort of in vitro meat product still requires animal product in order to be productive.
"As the press release says, you still have to use extracts of foetal animals to actually get the tissue to grow in culture."
Researchers at Eindhoven University say they believe artificial meat could be on sale within five years.
First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.
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