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