Lab grown burgers may be too pricey (and weird?) for mainstream market

| | May 23, 2014
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Made with some breadcrumbs, egg, and 20,000 lab-grown cow muscle cells, the world’s first lab-grown burger made its debut last year. It was a proof of concept, evidence that you can make meat in lab. The technology is too difficult and expensive to show up grocery stores any time soon. In the future, however, proponents hope so-called cultured meat will get cheaper. If it does, making beef from stem cells could be an environmentally friendly alternative to, you know, killing animals for food. Raising cattle takes up a lot of arable land and water and creates greenhouse gas emissions. Engineers working on in vitro meat hope their creations will be less harmful on the environment. But will they ever get there?

One new paper, published yesterday in the journal Trends in Biotechnology, aimed to find out. It outlined a new method for growing ground beef in a lab, different from both the technique used in last year’s burger and the 3-D printing that other researchers have proposed. It also crunches some numbers on how much this animal-free beef would cost. Growing meat in lab is resource-intense and expensive, it turns out. One of the biggest costs? Feeding the little beasties.

Like the techniques that made last year’s burger, bioengineer Johannes Tramper’s proposed method starts with a small number of stem cells taken from an animal. After that, however, they go into a big, cylindrical bioreactor, like the ones used in the pharmaceutical industry today. In contrast, the burger was grown from small pieces in dishes in lab and made just a few burgers. So Tramper’s idea brings meat-growing to a bigger scale. 

Read the full, original story: What Does It Take To Make Meat From Stem Cells?


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