Forget Frankenfoods the Next Big Thing Will Be Stem Cell Steaks

B. McPherson


Perhaps stem cell steaks are a bit of a reach but scientists at the Dutch Eindhoven University of Technology are culturing beef strips from beef stem cells. Chief scientist Mark Post has predicted that they will have enough of the in vitro produced muscle by October to produce a hamburger.

While this may sound like science fiction, the basics have already been dealt with and tiny strips of beef muscle have been cultured.

The scientists involved estimate that this will be a more efficient way of producing beef for consumption. Conventionally raised beef takes about 100 pounds of resources to produce 15 pounds of useable meat. The lab raised beef is estimated to produce 50 pounds for every 100 pounds of resources. Of course the first stem cell burger will actually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The race is on to produce more meat for the growing human population. As living standards rise, people can afford more protein and often consume it in the form of animal flesh. In conjunction with that, the realization that industrial feed lots  and other confined animal feed operations require massive amounts of antibiotics to keep the animals healthy, methane produced in animal guts adds to the greenhouse effect  and the resources required to deal with massive amounts of animal feces could be used elsewhere.

Other sources for meat and meat like substitutes are also being tried out. Perhaps the most bizarre to date is that produced by a Japanese researcher who has made meat from poop. According to TreeHugger researcher Mitsuyuki Ikeda has combined soya, steak sauce essence and the protein extracted from sewage mud.

I don’t know about you, but the prospect of a turd burger for lunch is enough for me to become a strict vegetarian.

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