Dutch scientists have grown small pieces of muscle tissue about 2cm long, 1cm wide and about a mm thick. Professor Mark Post from Maastricht University in the Netherlands created an off-white strip of muscle tissue which looks like calamari. These strips will be mixed with blood and artificially grown fat to produce a hamburger by Fall 2012. It’s easier said than done though. The hamburger will cost more than $290,000 to produce.
Professor Mark Post spoke at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver. He explained to the attendees the ingredients for the first lab-grown hamburger. While the lab-grown hamburger is still in the laboratory phase, he has plans to turn a couple of thousand of these small tissues into a hamburger by October.
In a press conference, he said he wanted celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, owner of the three Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, southern England to cook the lab-grown hamburger when it’s ready.
Mark Post told BBC News, “The reason we are doing this is not to show a viable product but to show that in reality we can do this. It will help reduce land pressures. Anything that stops more wild land being converted to agricultural land is a good thing. We’re already reaching a critical point in availability of arable land,” he said.”
Lab grown meat will help keep pace with the demand of meat. Especially in places like Asia and Africa where the demand has become greater as living standards have rose. Conventional livestock producers can’t keep up with the current demands and pastureland. It’s forecasted the demand to double within the next 50 years. Climate change, water shortages and greater urbanization will make it more difficult to produce food during that time.
Speakers at the conference were all concerned about the growing food demands.
An anonymous private investor gave Post $330,000 to fund the project. They are interested in the life-transforming technologies and believes lab-grown meat could revolutionize the food industry. “It’s a reputable source of money, I can tell you,” Mark Post said in Vancouver, Canada, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The research also has support from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who are also urging scientists to create stem-cell chicken by the end of June for a $1 million prize.
You might be wondering, what will this lab created hamburger taste like. Professor Mark Post said, “In the beginning it will taste bland. I think we will need to work on the flavour separately by trying to figure out which components of the meat actually produce the taste and analyse what the composition of the strip is and whether we can change that.”