The $325,000 Hamburger

From the New York Times:

The hamburger, assembled from tiny bits of beef muscle tissue grown in a laboratory and to be cooked and eaten at an event in London, perhaps in a few weeks, is meant to show the world — including potential sources of research funds — that so-called in vitro meat, or cultured meat, is a reality…

The burger was created at phenomenal cost — 250,000 euros, or about $325,000, provided by a donor who so far has remained anonymous. Large-scale manufacturing of cultured meat that could sit side by side with conventional meat in a supermarket and compete with it in price is at the very least a long way off.

It may not taste very well or be the most cost effective, but I am convinced we are looking at the future of meat production.

The benefits could be quite large once the process is perfected. Here’s a few I thought up off the top of my head:

  1. We’d need a lot less food stock per pound of meat, as there’s no animal to get into the way
  2. Feeding 9 billion in 2050 a euro/US meat diet becomes less harmful to the environment
  3. Reduced global warming by eliminating–except for dairy–one of the largest sources of methane gas (cow farts
  4. Test tube meat should eliminate much of the antibiotics use in animal raising, which causes the drug resistant forms of e. coli
  5. Growing meat in vitro removes the ethical issues with mass farming of animals (open range vs pens, etc)
  6. Genetically engineered meat could be healthier for you than the real thing. Imagine a t-bone steak made of turkey that tastes like beef, or chicken with the anti-oxidants of fruit



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