Can “lab-grown” meat end animal cruelty and promote sustainability?

petri dish meat aurich lawson ars technica

If we know too much about that juicy steak we might not want to eat it anymore. A lot of people who actually do know feel uneasy about meat production, but never do anything about it. That is where cultured meat comes in.

Cultured meat, otherwise known as lab-grown or in-vitro meat, hit big in 2013 when tissue engineer Mark Post held his (in)famous “frankenburger” taste test. The cultured beef patty looked weird, tasted OK, and but wasn’t ready for mass production. But none of that mattered — it was a proof of concept.

Researchers have assessed the environmental impacts of culturing meat. Their results are theoretical, but suggest growing meat in metal bioreactors could be more sustainable than growing meat in the flesh bioreactors that we call cows. And it would free us from the nasty business of killing animals altogether.

But despite potential benefits, there are problems standing in the way of a cultured meat revolution: there aren’t that many people working on it and funding is an issue. Cultured meat is a long-term, high-risk investment. In addition, the research lies in a  no-man’s land between medicine, where there’s plenty of tissue engineering research going on, and food science, where there isn’t.

The future of cultured meat may look something like the current beer industry. There could be giant meat factories — or “carneries” —as well as small artisanal ones.  Since there’s no clear way to patent the cell division process like there is with GMOs, this beer-like trajectory seems more probable than a future where a few giant corporations churn out cultured meat for the masses.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: With lab-grown meat, can we have our animals and eat them too?

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