Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

$375,000 Lab-Grown Beef Burger To Debut On Monday 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the order-yours-while-supplies-last dept.
sciencehabit writes "If you take some scientists' word for it, the biggest agricultural revolution since the domestication of livestock is starting on Monday — in an arts center in London. At a carefully orchestrated media event, Dutch stem cell researcher Mark Post is planning to present the world's first test-tube hamburger. Its patty — financed by an anonymous billionaire — is made from meat that Post has laboriously grown from bovine stem cells in his lab at an estimated cost of $375,000, just to prove a point: that it is possible to produce meat without slaughtering animals."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

$375,000 Lab-Grown Beef Burger To Debut On Monday

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:14PM (#44461135)

    Cue the Better of Ted jokes...

  • Beats meat (Score:5, Funny)

    by bryanandaimee (2454338) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:15PM (#44461147)

    Scientist says you can't beat meat. Now that's cultured!

  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:22PM (#44461227) Homepage

    Good result.

    Yes, it's expensive now. It's a prototype. Aluminum once cost more than gold.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865)

      I like the concept of 100% taste-prep-whatever compatible meat being created without any harm to animals or the environment whatsoever. It's a net-benefit for society. Benefits animals, the land, and probably overall would help take a universal step-forward in our consciousness in a sort of "now we don't harm animals because we can avoid it" kind of way.

      I just wonder how hard it will be to make that switch, even if the food pans out to be perfect. I mean, would "this was a real animal" honestly make a diffe

      • by tftp (111690)

        the next generation just takes for granted that you don't eat living animals

        As a side effect, they will be able to see a live cow only at a zoo. Eventually they will be extinct. Domesticated cattle cannot live outside of a ranch, and there won't be any ranches left.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          As a side effect, they will be able to see a live cow only at a zoo. Eventually they will be extinct. Domesticated cattle cannot live outside of a ranch, and there won't be any ranches left.

          Doubtful -- there will always be a few ranches left to cater to the gourmet/fetish crowd.

          In any case, even if cows did go extinct, it's not clear that would be such a bad thing. Assuming they also figure out how to synthesize ice cream, of course.

          • by tftp (111690)

            A large number of unique breeds that exist today for specific purpose will be gone. You will end up with only a handful - a couple for meat, a couple for milk, and that's all. Small populations will disappear by dissolving in larger populations. Some herds will be just shipped to the beef processor while the plant is open.

            But there is a larger question here. What is more humane: to create millions of calves, let them live for a couple years, and then kill them - or to not let them be in the first place?

    • Re:Nice (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:29PM (#44461305)

      Yes, the current cost is meaningless. I once had a £60,000 keyring. It was a prototype graphics chip - a one off, produced for testing. We had a few more made, each time with a few mods, before the button was pressed for mass production, at which point you could buy the whole graphics card for about £70 or so. That initial £60,000 it cost to tool up for each prototype was just a meaningless number - they were never going to be made individually so you have to factor it into the overall cost/profit formula later on. If synthetic meat catches on - and it's completely, totally obvious that it will (because at some point soon the choice will be synthetic meat or no meat at all) - the cost will rapidly undercut the cost of raising livestock.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:25PM (#44461253)
    Given the reaction to GM crops you think the EU will embrace the Frankenburger? Much like the monster it will be vilified, misunderstood and eventually driven out and destroyed.
    • by manu0601 (2221348)
      I understand it to be quite different from GM crops: The thing will not produce BT toxin, nor it will be raised in a roundup bath because it is resistant to it. Since it is grown in a lab, it will not spread without control in the environment. And even if it did, theses are just natural cattle cells, right? The usual health concerns about GM do not apply there.
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:25PM (#44461257)

    ... Super Size that for a buck?

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:26PM (#44461273) Homepage

    It's just a $375,000 failed lab experiment until somebody dares eat it.

    • by Drethon (1445051)
      How many great scientific discoveries were due to a dare?
      • by Pulzar (81031)

        How many great scientific discoveries were due to a dare?

        I don't know, how many? Do you know of many?

  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:30PM (#44461325) Journal

    Symbiotica did this before [tcaproject.org] in 2003 by growing tissue from skeletal muscle cells harvested from pre-natal sheep. And they ate the results.

    There are two major hurdles with non-violent cultured meat for eating though:

    1) Edible meat is a very complex tissue with muscles, fat, blood vessels, etc. and the precise relation of these cell types and their physical placement in the meat affects the taste and texture.

    2) Most cell culturing media is not vegetarian - the nutrient baths are generally processed from living animals.

    It sounds like this new effort is basically the same thing - culturing myoblasts and feeding them with fetal calf serum.

    At the same time, I look forward to these challenges being overcome, and glad to see new funding!

  • Doesn't save animals (Score:5, Informative)

    by nbauman (624611) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:32PM (#44461341) Homepage Journal

    FTA:

    There are other problems: Cultured meat is now grown in medium with fetal calf serum, a supplement made from blood collected at slaughterhouses; scientists have yet to find an alternative that doesn't involve dead animals.

  • I mean, were those fetal stem cells or adult stem cells that they used?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:47PM (#44461509)

    Look, I admit I'm a heterotroph [wikipedia.org]. That means I eat things. There's no way around that. I'm not photosynthetic. I'm not chemoautotrophic [wikipedia.org]. It doesn't matter if it's plant or animal or fungus or various prokaryotes, I live thanks to the death of other living creatures. My heritage has been heterotrophic since sometime when the first eukaryotes started clumping together into multicellular creatures back almost a billion years ago, and some of them realized it was easier to raid other critters and burn it with oxygen than to grow their own. That choice was made a long, long time ago, long before I had enough differentiated nerve cells clumped together to enable me to make a conscious choice about it. Even if they're cultured cells sitting in a growth medium, I'm still responsible for their death. Even if I'm vegetarian, it's a formerly living plant that I'm eating. They die so I can live.

    My main and almost only moral concern is that I don't eat other sentient creatures (obviously) and if I do eat reasonably intelligent creatures (e.g., pigs), that they are treated reasonably well during their lifetime until I decide to eat them. I'd sooner ensure a basic standard like that is strictly adhered to than waste $375k on a lab hamburger for the sake of the vain illusion that I'm not killing things to survive. I still am, even at that kind of cost and hassle.

  • Where did they get the stem cells from? Where did they get the foetal bovine serum from?

  • by Geste (527302)
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Stem Cells
  • I am guessing the cow is dead now, and only produced a single hamburger.

  • What these people never think about is the fact that these animals being edible is what keeps people breeding, raising and feeding them. Cows, pigs and chickens have never been endangered species because they are (or make) good food. I own 30 or so chickens that I buy food for, built a safe coop for, let out into a pasture every morning and close in each night. I do this because they make yummy eggs.

    The bison is no longer endangered because people started raising them for meat. A hundred years ago, t

  • where real cows are raised on dairy farms, and the over abundance of bull calfs are castrated for beef steers, for 375 thousand bucks i could buy a lot of pasture land and stock it with cattle and start my own beef ranch
  • Is this going to be like Olestra - $200,000 roll of toiletpaper sold separately?! :p
  • 80/20 or 75/25?
  • it is possible to produce meat without slaughtering animals.

    That really ain't the overriding concern, is it? Synthesizing meat will consume just about the same resources as the animal would. If we allow the animals to live in the same numbers AND we grow synthetic meat, we've just graduated to consuming twice as much resources. For what, an act of ill-informed conscience? And if we start culling the former food animals to reduce their numbers to make way for the synthmeat and because we're not biting chunks out of their asses any more, well doesn't that just put

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      Synthesizing meat will consume just about the same resources as the animal would

      What makes you think that? Cows aren't a very efficient mechanism for converting grain into beef; about 90% of the grain's calories are wasted in the process. I have no idea how efficient synthesizing beef could become, but it's not like there's no room for improvement there.

      If we allow the animals to live in the same numbers AND we grow synthetic meat, we've just graduated to consuming twice as much resources.

      Most likely the synthesized meat would cannibalize (sorry) the real-meat market instead.

      And if we start culling the former food animals to reduce their numbers to make way for the synthmeat and because we're not biting chunks out of their asses any more, well doesn't that just put us on even shakier ill-informed moral ground than we were on when we were slaughtering and eating them?

      That's not what would happen either. The existing cows would be used in the same ways they've always been, but not as many new cows would be conc

  • Just when more and more folks are balking at GMO veggies... this should go over well (especially since the same type of person who is anti-GMO will likely also lean toward the "be kind to animals" crowd).
  • People will look back at us and find it disgusting we ate corpses.
    • by tftp (111690)

      People will look back at us and find it disgusting we ate corpses.

      You can brainwash a child even today. No need to wait for a century.

      However no mental gymnastics can obscure the fact that humans are predators. You can live in a tower, surrounded by food synthesizers and whatnot. But if that tower one day crumbles and drops you into a forest, you *will* eat every corpse you can come across, and you will make many new ones in the process. Those who won't will die. Plants that you can find in a forest, o

      • by TheDugong (701481)

        Computers are stupid because they rely on a developed industrialised economy and would worthless in an apocalyptic scenario \s

        However, as I live in a developed industrial economy and I am "surrounded by machines that make my wishes real"...

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      ..and if they have the same smarmy, arrogant attitude as yourself and the rest of the PETAtards, I won't worry about what they'll think of me.

When all else fails, read the instructions.

Working...