Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech

In Vitro Grown Meat 'Nearly Possible' 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-eat-greens,-food-eats-greens dept.
Bruce66423 writes "An article at The Guardian discusses the prospects for food from radically different sources than the ones we're used to. 'Sweet fried crickets' anyone? Quoting: '... artificial steak is still a way off. Pizza toppings are closer. The star of the Dutch research into in-vitro meat, Dr Mark Post, promised that the first artificial hamburger, made from 10bn lab-grown cells, would be ready for "flame-grilling by Heston Blumenthal" by the end of 2012. At the time of writing it is still on the back burner. Post (who previously produced valves for heart surgery) and other Dutch scientists are currently working over the problem of how to turn the "meat" from pieces of jelly into something acceptably structured: an old-fashioned muscle. Electric shocks may be the answer. ... The technological problems of producing the new hi-tech foods are nothing compared to the trouble the industry is having with the consumers – the "yuck factor," as the food technology scientists across the world like to put it. Shoppers' squeamishness has turned the food corporations, from whom the real money for R&D will have to come, very wary, and super-secretive about their work on GM in America.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

In Vitro Grown Meat 'Nearly Possible'

Comments Filter:
  • by nine932038 (1934132) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:25AM (#42494129)

    After encountering the notion in the Vorkosigan series and thinking about it a bit, the notion of lab-grown meat doesn't seem like a big deal. It's arguably more sanitary than an animal that's been standing in filth for its entire life, after all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dwywit (1109409)

      You might be right - but it's your choice whether to eat that sort of meat, or not. I'm prepared to pay more - sometimes a lot more - for free-range meat. Doesn't have to be "organic", just not raised or fattened in pens or feedlots or cages.

      • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @10:31AM (#42495605)

        You might be right - but it's your choice whether to eat that sort of meat, or not. I'm prepared to pay more - sometimes a lot more - for free-range meat.

        My guess is that this choice will go away very quickly once synthmeat becomes practical. It will become socially unacceptable to kill any actual animals for food at that point, even if the vat-grown stuff isn't as tasty at first.

        Not saying that this will be a good or bad thing, just that it's inevitable.

        • by Genda (560240)

          Clearly getting the meat to resemble its cell source will be the critical problem. Using something like a massive 3D Printer to build large masses of artificial muscle (using electrical stimulation to exercise it and give it real structure and density) and controlling its growth to include extra nutritional values for instance high Omega 3 content. This meat would be much healthier than the meat we eat now, and because it was grown in an antiseptic environment, there would be virtually no possibility of fo

    • Speaking as a vegan (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:56AM (#42494257) Homepage

      I don't get the yuck factor.

      To me a slaughtered animals is about as yucky as it can be. Even more so when combined with the slaughter house And even more so if you consider some things like the floors and skinn processing.

      There's also the hanging of the meat and for instance things like hams which have hanged around to develop flavour or whatever for three (?) years and such. I guess they keep the flies out but it looks very old and "half-rotten" with black spots and ugly surface.

      Imho something fresh rather than an old body stored long after death seem fresher and less discusting. Scavaging isn't my idea of fresh and little yuckiness.

      Something grown in a clean environment (though of course the bodies of the animals are likely good at keeping themself clean except for some parasites and such) imho seem less yucky and if you've got some compassion for others that's even better.

      What I personally wonder is if it's still grown in bouillon made of animals because then the difference isn't all to big. You still need to kill animals and use them in the process. But then again they likely could use some scraps to make that one to get better effectiveness.

      For me personally there may still be some mental issue due to what it is even if no animal had to die and the cells wasn't grown on an animal based diet/medium. That may not make much sense though, and having a protein based staple for your diet would be very convenient.

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:05AM (#42494715) Homepage Journal

        To me a slaughtered animals is about as yucky as it can be.

        Did you know there are no indigenous vegetarians? There may have been some, but they were probably eaten. Your distaste for what is one of the most natural processes on the world (before blood existed, there were predators and prey) would make you unfit to survive in the wild.

        or me personally there may still be some mental issue due to what it is even if no animal had to die and the cells wasn't grown on an animal based diet/medium. That may not make much sense though,

        You're hardly the only person I know who is grossed out by meat. To me, though, that's not just a mental issue, it's mental illness. We are omnivores. Actual predators often don't even wait until an animal stops moving before they eat it. They have no sense of nicety.

        You've convinced yourself of something arbitrary and false.

        The simple truth is that an animal has an immune system and a vat of meat doesn't, so from any logical standpoint, it's the vat-grown meat that's "yucky". Animals are self-cleaning and self-repairing. With that said, CAFOs are the devil's work.

        • "Did you know there are no indigenous vegetarians? There may have been some, but they were probably eaten."

          ROFLMAO

          I have it on good authority that some omnivores eat other omnivores, too. I hear that long pig tastes just like pork! Way off topic, but I served with a guy whose grandfathers were headhunters. We asked him once if he ever ate another person. He said, "I don't know, I just ate whatever my mother gave me!"

          It's unlikely that he did. In theory, at least, the last of the tribes in the Phillipin

        • by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @10:18AM (#42495515)
          You need to study formal logic a bit more. What you are committing is popularly known as the naturalistic fallacy. This is the assumption that what is natural is good, and what is good must be natural.

          Which is stupid when you actually stop and think about it. Dolphins rape each other, perfectly natural. Not good.

        • Well, look at it a different way, when you eat the stuff grown in a vat, you avoid all the hormones that are naturally produced in a cow. There's a lot of nasty stuff coursing through the body of a cow.

          So laboratory grown meat is actually the cleaner stuff. And if they make it taste better than normal beef, as in, you can get a nice Kobe Beef-like steak in America, I'm sure not going to complain about it not being 'natural.'
      • Something grown in a clean environment (though of course the bodies of the animals are likely good at keeping themself clean except for some parasites and such) imho seem less yucky

        Well, there's the problem right there: animals are self-contained systems. They have a circulatory system that filters out all kinds of bad stuff and keeps a delicate balance, they have an immune system that wards off bacteria, fungi and viruses. They move around by themselves.

        I guess most people find the thought of some meat "living" in a petri dish revolting, but the actual "yuck" factor should come from all the chemicals needed to grow the meat.

        Prevent infections? Add some more antibiotics and preservati

        • Because we don't use antibiotics, color additives, and unnatural feeds in the production of normal meat...
          • Well yeah, that's why I mentioned them. But at least with livestock these things are regulated and random samples are tested in labs. And still there is abuse.

            The difference is: you can probably do a lot of crazy things with "dummy" meat that you couldn't do with live animals because you don't have to consider their organs (brain, liver, heart) or bodily functions. Large amounts of ethanol in the blood? Would put a cow in a coma, but no problemo for a living steak since it has no brain.

      • Too bad that when it comes out, there will be more than the yuck factor. It will be justified. There will be (baseless) claims that any company involved in this is unethical. There will be (severely flawed) studies proving this meat causes cancer. Just wait. New technology, especially biotechnology, when some people find it 'yucky,' will have justification for the angst. That and its new, science is scary, labs are scary, there will be Frankenstein monster imagery, ect.

      • Unless things have changed since the last time this story came around, the synthetic meat stuff is still grown using meat-based nutrients (chicken broth, etc.), so it's still not vegetarian even if you aren't counting the animal cells that were used to start the culture growing. So I still won't be eating it, unless they can feed it veggies instead, but even for carnivores, it'll be pretty much a lab curiosity unless they can do that anyway. (I suppose it's possible that they could get some economic benef

  • by swampfriend (2629073) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:25AM (#42494133)
    cownterfeit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Godda...Fu...*sigh*

      There is a hatred I cannot convey, while simultaneously congratulating.

    • or: conned beef

  • by Beetjebrak (545819) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:29AM (#42494143) Homepage
    I don't understand the yuck-factor. Go buy a McChicken at the big yellow M. There's nothing recognizably chicken-ish about that product at all. The taste and texture is completely different from the chicken I tasted as a kid, when my grandfather would routinely kill and prepare his own chickens for dinner. I can tell you from personal experience that the yuck-factor in actually killing a chicken with a blade is much higher than that of an electricallly stimulated nuggy grown inside a petri dish.
    • I don't understand the yuck-factor.

      Me neither. I would actually be delighted to eat lab-grown meat, with no bacteria on it, no steroids, no antibiotics, with a consistent quality and so on. I'm just hoping for some real breakthrough in the area so that such meat will become easy and cheap to produce so that it can be properly brought into mass-market. I assume that lab-grown meat will also mean less by-products and environmental waste than the regular method, but alas, I'm not an expert in either area.

      • by MtHuurne (602934)

        I assume that lab-grown meat will also mean less by-products and environmental waste than the regular method, but alas, I'm not an expert in either area.

        I'm not an expert either, but I'd expect at least methane emissions to be a lot lower since lab-grown meat doesn't have a digestive system.

        • Lab-grown meat will require the energy and materials for nutrient baths, environmental controls, safety systems and the construction of expensive laboratory equipment versus sunlight and a ramshackle wooden fence and barn. I wouldn't expect the cownterfeit meat to be "environmentally cheaper" until the industry is well-developed, if ever.

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          As far as AGW is concerned, methane is a strong greenhouse gas, but its half-life is short, so it isn't such a big problem.

      • by houghi (78078)

        I do mind. The important factors are taste and structure. Both are from how the animal has lived. If the animal walked around free, the meat will be less tender as the muscles have done more work. (meat is muscle)
        Because there was more training, the muscles are not only a bit harder, they also had more blood going through them. This means more taste.

        And that is why steak is still way off. Pizza toppings are proceeded foods that have little to do with meat, except its origin.

        • I do mind. The important factors are taste and structure. Both are from how the animal has lived. If the animal walked around free, the meat will be less tender as the muscles have done more work. (meat is muscle)

          Yes, and? You're assuming that it won't be possible to manufacture such meat in a lab, yet TFA actually *does* talk about exactly this. It's only a matter of time. Sooner or later there will be such meat.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Errrr, there's a huge assumption in there that's unlikely to be fulfilled in real life. The current lab grown meat is in a research phase, and is therefore subject to clean room lab conditions where dollars/kilo are not a concern. You're assuming that the clean room conditions will extend to the mass market exploitation of the product: your assumption is that there will be no additives (really, really unlikely as yields are likely to be the biggest factor, and hence any yield enhancing agent you can imagine

    • by terjeber (856226)
      Did you think there was Chicken in a McChicken. How cute.
    • I don't understand the yuck-factor.

      "Hunger never saw bad bread." -- Benjamin Franklin

      Yucky food is the inspiration for fine home cookin'. Slaves in the US were given the throw-away parts of animals that their masters did not want to eat. So the slaves developed recipes with spices to make the yucky food very tasty. The same thing could happen with this meat.

      If you are really hungry, you will eat whatever you can. If it tastes good, you will eat it, even though you think it is yucky.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I don't understand the yuck-factor.

      Here's mine. When a chicken goes wrong the problem is usually apparent, the chicken may even die before you kill it and be thrown away. But when you're growing it in a vat you're going to have to rely on testing. A problem in the middle of a batch might not get caught.

      Nature has protective mechanisms. They evolved, they weren't designed in, but that makes them no less valid.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)

        the chicken may even die before you kill it and be thrown away

        And often times the dead chickens are included in the pile of live chicken in the mass processing.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          And often times the dead chickens are included in the pile of live chicken in the mass processing.

          Yes, that is a fair point. I used to eat anything and everything that came near my face, but these days I am more selective. Foster Farms is as low down the scale of chicken processors as I'm willing to go, I don't eat KentuckyFriedCrap or MickeyDeeznutz or ToxicSmell etc etc any more. Sometimes if I am really desperate I will eat a six dollar burger, that's scary enough but at least it's still recognizable as beef.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Not to mention I think this [wordpress.com] is relevant. A lot of people today have completely disassociated the slabs of meat found vacuum packed in the store from actual livestock. I don't mean that they don't actually know, they just don't like to think about it. I don't particularly like reminding myself that a rump steak is an animal's butt myself, but it tastes good. Same with sausages, try reminding people the skin is made of intestines and see how many friends you make. I don't think lab made meat would be a hard s

    • Go buy a McChicken at the big yellow M. There's nothing recognizably chicken-ish about that product at all. The taste and texture is completely different from the chicken I tasted as a kid, when my grandfather would routinely kill and prepare his own chickens for dinner.

      That's because your grandfather didn't grind the chickens up, make patties, batter and deep fry them. The fact that a McChicken doesn't resemble unground chicken isn't any different than the fact that a hamburger doesn't resemble a steak.

  • I'll bet they could make a Haggas that even PETA could love. It already doesn't resemble meat so there's no downside. I'm only half joking in that processed meats may be the inroad to wide acceptance.
  • What is ironic is that looking at current varieties of crops and farm animals, they have been cultivated to the point where they bear little resemblance to the original species. Also methods of generating new varieties include induced mutation, which is seen as OK by the organic lobby. Go figure.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > which is seen as OK by the organic lobby. Go figure.

      Speaking for myself and not for any organization or lobby, I've been annoyed by a seemingly recurring method to promote particular technologies like nuclear energy or genetic engineering.

      Please let me take this opportunity to be on-topic and show how nefarious such method can be.

      For instance, as of recently some dude figured he was "wrong" and GM is not bad, so he changed his view. Well, he might be wrong in opposing GM, but the other extreme (give a

      • It's the same with nuclear energy: it's essential for medical use, but frankly, people don't know how to deal with nuclear reactors. It's not a Physics or Engineering problem -- it's a case of management incompetence. And I see no solution for that in the near future.

        You can (and should) say the same thing about cars. Automobiles driven by incompetents kill more people every day than nuclear power has in its entire human history.

        At least, ignoring one or two minor aberrations. [wikipedia.org] Though they did work as intended. . .

        • by celle (906675)

          "At least, ignoring one or two minor aberrations. Though they did work as intended. . ."

                It's been more than two aberrations. But just those two aberrations had killed more people than car accidents over years in that era. Also car accidents are one-off incidents that don't have long term effects as opposed to nuclear where the long term effects aren't taken into account when figuring the body count.

  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:22AM (#42494351)

    "Dr Mark Post, promised that the first artificial hamburger, made from 10bn lab-grown cells, would be ready for "flame-grilling by Heston Blumenthal" by the end of 2012. At the time of writing it is still on the back burner."

    It doesn't matter if it's on the back- or front-burner, the important thing is that it's on the BQ already.

  • On the bright side however, vegans can stop pretending their food actually tastes good! Oh... except those vegi burgers as they are tasty. Particularly when fried in bacon grease. ;)

  • Ethics for veggies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:48AM (#42494445) Homepage Journal
    As a vegetarian for the last 40-odd years this would certainly pose an ethical question for me - could I eat it?
    Probably yes, as it's not a part of the corpse of an animal and presumably no animal has suffered or been exploited in its manufacture. But in practice no, because What's the Point!? I ate meat until my late teens and don't miss it at all. I enjoy a very tasty, healthy and nutritious diet and that's what really matters.
    • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:19AM (#42494575) Homepage

      The only reason your diet is tasty to you is because you haven't had bacon in forty years. And if ever we needed proof that greys were replacing humans with pod people, that would be it.

    • by Smivs (1197859)
      Yup, no bacon for 40 years, and not missed at all. There is a common mis-conception amongst carnivores that a meal has to contain meat to be tasty. This is complete nonesense, but unfortunately prejudice and ignorance prevent many people from even investigating this fact with an open mind.
      @ 1st A/C - my tastebuds are fine thanks, and are stimulated frequently :)
      @ A/C No2 - As for the 'New Fruit', well of course I'd try it. I am a keen explorer of flavour and am more than willing to try new foods (provid
      • @ A/C No2 - As for the 'New Fruit', well of course I'd try it. I am a keen explorer of flavour and am more than willing to try new foods (providing they are veggie ;) ) which is one of the reasons I never find food boring.

        To quote your original post, "what's the point" in trying a new fruit? You said there was no point eating in vitro meat because you don't miss meat; presumably you also don't miss this new fruit, so what would be the point in trying it?

        You seem to have said that the point of trying the new fruit is because you'd like to explore new flavours. I'm sure that, despire having had meat at one point in your life, you haven't tried all types of meat, so presumably the point of trying in vitro meats would be the s

        • by Smivs (1197859)
          Yes, I agree. When I used to eat meat I had all the usual suspects, but have never tried kangaroo or crocodile or dozens of other things that people eat. If lab-grown meat was ever made that could mimic these accurately, i might try it out of interest. What I'm saying is that although this 'meat' is probably technically veggie I see no point in me eating it as it's the same as things I've tried and decided I don't want, that's all.
      • There is a common mis-conception amongst carnivores that a meal has to contain meat to be tasty.

        It's not a misconception: I have yet to eat a single tasty meal without any meat in it!

        • by Smivs (1197859)
          It is a misconception. What you have found is that good veggie food is not as common as it should be. This may be more a problem in the U.S. Good veggie food is quite common in Europe, and if you ever visit India (where the majority of the population is veggie) I promise your taste-buds will be blown away!
    • Well how do you define an animal? The meat will have to be alive to be grown in a lab, so you'd still be killing it before consumption (well most of us will).

      • Well how do you define an animal? The meat will have to be alive to be grown in a lab, so you'd still be killing it before consumption (well most of us will).

        The cells in a carrot are alive whilst it is being grown and when you cook it you kill it - what's the difference?

        (Yes, plant cells and meat cells are physically different, but if neither organism has a central nervous system, is that ethically important?)

      • by EnsilZah (575600)

        I'm a meat eater myself, but I think the reasoning is pretty simple, how you define an animal is irrelevant, it's about how you define the spectrum of consciousness.

        If a cow can experience pain and fear similar to our own then some people would consider it unethical to kill it so they can enjoy a juicy steak.
        Some people are not ok with killing a cow but are ok with killing a shrimp, because it has a more basic nervous system and they perceive it as closer to an automaton than to a human being.
        Still others w

  • No, not the disney Movie but the SF novel from 1952.

    The Space Merchants, by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth).

    http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?bnum=1002 [technovelgy.com]

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The rest of the novel has already come true (except in a lesser venue) but instead of the congressman from Exxon, it's the congressmen from BP, Monsanto, Halliburton...

  • by 32771 (906153) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:29AM (#42494597) Journal

    I'm still dreaming of a steak tree - doesn't have to move, grows on sunlight, doesn't need the highly interdependent energy intensive support infrastructure of industrial society, tastes delicious.

    The downside would be that trees normally take a while until they can procreate, delaying breeding attempts. The other thing might be that the global greenhouse pickle we got ourselves into would rather favour movable trees, much like the ones seen in Lord of the Rings, due to the rapidity of the climate changes and weather extremes persisting for longer durations. Maybe cows with chlorophyll would be a better idea. Oh no, wait - cows move around to harvest stored energy from the grass, their own surface would never be enough at the puny photosynthesis efficiencies! They might get maybe a 1-2W assuming 100W average insolation.

    Well maybe I could settle for beans with beef taste and some additional proteins.

  • Chinese Faux Meats (Score:4, Informative)

    by assertation (1255714) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:49AM (#42494671)

    This technology isn't really needed. Chinese Buddhists have been making faux meats for centuries. They are quite good.

    There are also newer, Western faux meats that are quite good. Check out brands like Gardein and Beyond Meat.

    Throughout most of human history, meat in the quantity Westerners are used to has been quite rare. The result are ethic cuisines thousands of years old that use little, if any meat, for tasty, complete ( and healthier ) nutrition.

  • It first blames monsanto for creating a scare because of its out of control actions, then argues for less control by governments.

    The simple fact is that if you don't have excessive restrictions, business WILL abuse its freedom, anything from DDT, tobacco, countless medicines which turned out to be worse then the disease.

    The whole reason GM food is distrusted is precisely because the US government reduced restrictions and Monsanto went wild, the article even calls it Dr Frankenstein. How can you then argue

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @09:42AM (#42495245)
    I'm really curious what someone who doesn't eat meat for "moral" reasons thinks about this? Would you eat it? Would you not? Why either way?
  • I'm happily awaiting vat meat, the advantages are too great for me to ignore. Less environmental impact, no living animals harmed, a much more consistent flavour and texture.

    Although I am known for my odd eating habits, picking bland and healthy over sweet and tasty.
  • by russotto (537200) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @12:04PM (#42496277) Journal

    We've already got a machine which produces meat. It's almost fully-automatic; it gathers a large proportion of its nutrients on its own, eliminates the waste products, and in the process exercises the muscle tissue to produce the desired texture (though some external work is typically required before harvesting to "finish" the meat). It requires no electricity or other energy input aside from the nutrients it gathers. In short, the cow sets a pretty high standard for meat machines.

    • by Zouden (232738)

      the cow sets a pretty high standard for meat machines.

      Sure, and the horse sets a pretty high standard for transport.

  • by slew (2918)

    If all they can come up with is using electric shocks to make muscle, this process is doomed.

    First, it's ignorning the fact that muscle built that way is by stressing and damaging muscle fibres (now we have to invent superhard "tendon" like material to attach the muscle fiber to some solid framework to create stress and then take those fake inedible tendons out later) and allowing the muscle repair processes to make more muscles out of muscle satellite cells. Next, it takes alot a big contractions to creat

  • Blah. Ugh. Lab grown meats are produced in chemicals that I don't want to be eating. It takes more energy to produce lab grown meat. It is worse for the environment than the grand efficiency of pasture raised meats. Lab grown meats are about centralized control by a few big corporations and government bodies. They're not healthy. They're garbage.

  • If the point of this meat is to develop a new food source, overlooking the culinary uses of its own unique form could be a mistake. There might be excellent & tasty uses for meat jelly or even liquid meat that aren't currently possible with the cuts of tissue that we already know.

    Gelatin is already prominent in food production, for example. It's possible that meat jelly could create similar structural effects while enhancing nutritional content.
  • Has the author ever seen a slaughterhouse? Huge animals hanging from bleed rails, their throats cut, blood gushing out of the gaping wound, snot and saliva hanging down from their mouths and noses, secretions on their eyes?

    Ever smelled a cow, or a pig?

    Now, don't get me wrong. I like fried chicken strips. Salami. Bacon. Steak. But after it's cleaned and well-prepared.

    If someone wants to educate themselves, they can just go to youtube or liveleak and type in "cow slaughter" or "pig slaughter" and compare whet

: is not an identifier

Working...