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Published on December 1st, 2009 | by John Chappell

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Laboratory Grown Meat: Coming Soon To Your Dinner Plate

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Scientists in the Netherlands recently announced that they have grown meat in a laboratory for the first time.  Though no one has yet to taste this laboratory meat, there is speculation that it could be commercially viable, and on your dinner table within the next five years.

The process of creating artificial meat started with extracting cells from a live pig and then placing them in a broth-like mixture of other animal parts until the cells multiplied.  When the cells eventually multiplied they created muscle tissue, the texture and appearance of which has been described by researchers as “soggy pork”.  Tasty.

The experiment in the Netherlands is part of a government sponsored study (co-funded by a Dutch sausage maker) that previously recreated fish fillets from the cells of a gold fish.  The scientists now would like to be able to create other types of artificial meat with the hopes of commercialization of the product in the near future.

The creation of artificial meat makes for an interesting dilemma for vegetarians.  Is this “meat” still meat?  Though the prospect of eating soggy pork isn’t very appetizing, anticipated improvements will surely result in a more palatable product.  Should that product be available in your grocery store, would you buy it?

The “meat” grown in a laboratory may also challenge previously held ethical beliefs about consuming meat.  If no animals were harmed or killed to make it, is it still an unethical choice to consume meat?  The folks at People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sounded off their approval of the project stating:

“As far as we’re concerned, if meat is no longer a piece of a dead animal there’s no ethical objection.”

At the very least, meat grown in a laboratory has a chance to have a significant environmental impact.  Meat and dairy consumption is projected to double by the year 2050, and meat grown in a lab could offset the environmental impact of growing meat by traditional methods.  Methane from livestock is also currently estimated to produce 18% of greenhouse gas emissions (through production of methane) which could also be alleviated if meat could be commercially grown in a lab.

This product may be a few years from appearing on your dinner plate, but keep your eyes peeled and your forks ready, as you’ll probably be hearing more about this topic in the future.

You can read the full article here in the UK Telegraph.

Photo Credit: Dcollard at Wikipedia in the Public Domain

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About the Author

I'm 33, and a Southern Californian by birth and outlook, but recently relocated to the upper Midwest. You can label me an organic farmer trapped in an accountants brain and body, an enthusiastic yet novice urban homesteader, and a vocal supporter of all things organic, local, wholesome, and old-school.



  • britesprite

    Oh good grief. There’s enough rubbish meat around thanks to agri-business and vetrenarian injections. We don’t need anything even more awful to make this stuff look good.

    Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you’re not prepared to farm it kill it, skin it and butcher it, don’t eat it. Same goes for vegetarians as well.

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  • http://www.phytophiliac.com Chandelle

    I avoid meat for many reasons, though ethics tops the list. Lab-grown meat is unlikely to make a significant impact on health concerns. And it’s been so many years since I’ve had it, I’m completely grossed out at the sight or smell of it, so I don’t think I would bother either way. I’m happy with plants, myself.

  • Ashley

    This “meat” is still derived from live pig cells so how can Peta endorse it? Personally, I don’t trust any food made in a lab or factory, especially meat. I’ll stick to a vegetarian diet, thanks.

  • http://www.pragmaticenvironmentalism.com Brenda Pike

    I’m a vegetarian and I completely agree with PETA. If this actually catches on with the general population (not just the tiny percentage of it that’s vegetarian), think of how much animal misery could be avoided!

  • Adrianne

    In the rush to make a commercially viable product, has anyone looked into the possible health problems arising from eating this lab-grown meat? When ultra-pasteurization became the norm, suddenly thousands of people developed an intolerance for “dairy” products. Now the possibility that flash pasteurization causes intolerance is practically un-investigable, as too many companies have too much invested in keeping the status quo. Will this Frankenmeat cause similar problems? In the West we are currently suffering from an unprecedented epidemic of cancer. I find it hard to believe that unnatural foods are not–in part at least–to blame. Do we really want more lab crafted food substitutes?

  • Emily

    Isn’t growing animal meat kind of being a hypocrite? I thought PETA didn’t believe in killing and EATING animals. But they still would eat meat because it tastes good? Since technically, it’s not wrong?

  • Kari

    Emily- PETA doesn’t believe killing an animal to eat it is okay; they feel it’s not ethically right. If the animal isn’t killed or harmed, then there is no ethical dilemma.

    As a vegetarian of 14 years, however, I still could not bring myself to eat meat regardless of how it was developed. I do agree that lab grown meat would not pose ethical problems unless the animal that the live cells are taken from is harmed.

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