Ten Years In, Lab-Grown Meat Still Stuck In Its Infancy

Ten Years In, Lab-Grown Meat Still Stuck In Its Infancy

Dr. Vladimir Mironov estimates it will take $US1 billion to make lab-grown meat products a reality and use them to solve world hunger forever. He barely has $US1 million. Won’t you help him save the world?

Today, in his small laboratory at the Medical University of South Carlina, Dr. Mironov toils away on cultured, in-vitro meat much as he did back when growing edible tissue in a lab was just a weird fringe science. OK, so it is still somewhat unsettling, but not as much as you might think!

“There’s a yuck factor when people find out meat is grown in a lab. They don’t like to associate technology with food,” said Nicholas Genovese, 32, in an interview with Reuters. “But there are a lot of products that we eat today that are considered natural that are produced in a similar manner…there’s yogurt, which is cultured yeast. You have wine production and beer production. These were not produced in laboratories. Society has accepted these products.”

Eventually, Dr. Mironov envisions football field-sized manufacturing facilities that will create whatever type or consistency of meat customers desire. Texture design, he says, is entirely within the realm of possibility. More marbling in my faux cow, I say!

Ultimately, what Dr. Mironov and Genovese hope to do is cut back on the insane amount of land that’s set aside for raising the animals we consume as food, as well as save the animals themselves. The amount of Earth’s land devoted to raising cattle hovers at 30%.

Beyond that lofty goal lies space exploration. During an interplanetary voyage, storage space is a premium, and if you can eliminate live animals from the mix you save considerable weight. “Animals require between 3 and 8 pounds of nutrient to make 1 pound of meat. It’s fairly inefficient. Animals consume food and produce waste. Cultured meat doesn’t have a digestive system,” Mironov said.

If it looks like cow meat, smells like cow meat, and tastes like cow meat, it’s cow meat, right? Who’s hungry? [MSNBC]