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First Ever Public Tasting of Lab-Grown Cultured Beef Burger 303

Posted by samzenpus
from the tastes-like-chicken dept.
vikingpower writes "Today, at 14:00 Western European Time (9:00 am Eastern), Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University (the Netherlands) will present a world first: he will cook and serve a burger made from Cultured Beef in front of an invited audience in London. The event will include a brief explanation of the science behind the burger. You can watch the event live, online. The project's fact sheet is to be found here (pdf)." The BBC is reporting that Sergey Brin is the mystery backer behind the project.
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First Ever Public Tasting of Lab-Grown Cultured Beef Burger

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 05, 2013 @07:46AM (#44475977)

    This way they can produce human meat for canibals... and curious people asking if we taste like chicken to them.

  • by Cordus Mortain (3004429) on Monday August 05, 2013 @07:46AM (#44475979)
    .... putting his money where his mouth is
  • dupe (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    dupe [slashdot.org]
    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      They can keep it.

      Hell, I'm just trying to eat beef/animal products that are more natural than the normal stuff you see in the grocery stores.

      I'd rather cut down my meat intake (quality over quantity), and have say beef, that is grass fed, allowed to eat what it normally eats, and not needing all the hormones and anti-biotics....

      I'm certainly not wanting to swing the complete other day and have synthetic "dead animal".

      Why are we trying to go so far away from foodstuffs that mother natures put on earth fo

      • Re:dupe (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Applekid (993327) on Monday August 05, 2013 @10:34AM (#44477653)

        They can keep it.

        Hell, I'm just trying to eat beef/animal products that are more natural than the normal stuff you see in the grocery stores.

        I'd rather cut down my meat intake (quality over quantity), and have say beef, that is grass fed, allowed to eat what it normally eats, and not needing all the hormones and anti-biotics....

        I'm certainly not wanting to swing the complete other day and have synthetic "dead animal".

        Why are we trying to go so far away from foodstuffs that mother natures put on earth for us...?

        It isn't like most of us (in the west) are starving or anything.

        I would argue that if it's possible to grow meat that's just as wholesome as grass-fed beef (arguably more so because it won't have any environmental contaminants at all) and at the same price, the practice of raising and killing of animals is no longer justified in the slightest. It's a morally tough call today as it is.

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          I would argue that if it's possible to grow meat that's just as wholesome as grass-fed beef (arguably more so because it won't have any environmental contaminants at all) and at the same price, the practice of raising and killing of animals is no longer justified in the slightest. It's a morally tough call today as it is.

          So what are you proposing? Are you in the least bit familiar with how cattle are raised, either the 'farmed' variety or the ranged variety?

          What exactly the alternative to killing and eating the cattle?

          I see three options, in light :
          1) Kill them all / exterminate them to the point of extinction
          2) Let 800-1500lb cows range free as 'wild animals', allowing them to die to extinction within a human generation due to how stupid and human dependent they are (but not before people are trampled and gored by the thou

  • by Dthief (1700318) on Monday August 05, 2013 @07:51AM (#44476023)
    curse ye eaters of beef most foul

    toil toil grey sludge and genetically engineered eye of newt

  • by onyxruby (118189)

    This will divide the extremists. The anti-GM Luddites will go crazy because this is arguably the most anti-organic food on the planet. The vegetarians will celebrate because they get to eat 'meat' once more without killing animals. The vegans will note that animal byproducts are still required for this process to exist at all and still turn their noses up at it.

    Will brains explode with delight with the idea that humans can have their meat without killing cows and all of their related carbon emissions? Will

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday August 05, 2013 @07:59AM (#44476081)

      The price will go down eventually. Personally I look forward to meat without suffering for farm animals. Suffering for the animals is a by product of seeking to control costs, this will allow that without a nervous system that can feel suffering.

      No exploding, just excited to see progress.

      • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak@sLIONpeakeasy.net minus cat> on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:30AM (#44476321) Homepage

        Reports are, it tasted lousy, due to nearly zero fat content. Additionally, "real" beef has flavor overtones resultant from the feed the animal was raised on. Thus, corn-fed beef tastes different from grass-fed beef, even if both cows came from the same cows.

        I don't expect vat-raised hamburger, much less steak, being commercially available anytime soon. . . . . simply because if it doesn't TASTE good and have the "mouth feel" of genuine beef, you're not going to get enough buyers to make it a commercial success. . .

        • by Noughmad (1044096)

          simply because if it doesn't TASTE good and have the "mouth feel" of genuine beef, you're not going to get enough buyers to make it a commercial success. . .

          Just put a lot of sugar and a big red M on it. It will be a success overnight. I wouldn't mention its origin, though.

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          Really, he didn't include fat in his project? Has he never eaten meat?

          As for your argument, the same can be said of factory-farmed meat versus free range, yet the factory farmed meat has enough of a price advantage that most people choose it most of the time, ethics be damned. If lab grown meat can cross the same threshold I expect similar success. As for the flavor overtones, I'm sure the proper additives can be found for the nutrient bath.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm not sure why you insist on it tasting the same since real beef is not necessarily a local optimum of taste. They're aiming in the same general direction and if they get it wrong it won't necessarily taste worse. They got unlucky this time but a priori there was some chance it would have tasted better.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I imagine it'll have a market among fitness buffs. If it tastes remotely meat-ish and provides the proteins that meat provides, and lacks fat as well, it probably doesn't matter too much if the taste is "good." If you've ever tasted the protein shakes that people buy in bulk at GNC, you'd understand- flavor is not the primary concern.

    • by Sique (173459)
      I don't know how the GM luddites come into play here, as there is no GM at work. It's just cells multiplying, and no single gene gets modified in the process.
      • by onyxruby (118189)

        GM food is food that has been genetically modified from it's previous natural state directly by man instead of through crossbreeding - which is directly by man. Because the lab is involved the Luddites go nuts as this isn't 'natural'. The lab grown hamburger similarly also isn't natural and instead requires man's intervention.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Sique (173459)
          There is a small but important difference between crossbreeding and GM. In general, crossbreeding does not affects the genes, just the allels (the actual expression of a gene). Crossbreeding shuffles allel combinations, and you then can select from the filial generation the ones most close to your breeding goal and continue. But you introduce no new genes into the living. Even crossbreeding between species does not affect genes too much, as two releated species have more than 99% of all genes in common (e.g
        • by Immerman (2627577) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:30AM (#44476861)

          The objection to GM is not just because "Ahh, not natural", though that is admittedly a component. There are many other good reasons to object, to list a few:
          1) They introduces proteins (insecticides, herbicide resistance, etc) into our food supply that our bodies don't know how to deal with - at least one study shows that pigs fed an exclusively GMO'd diet displayed severe health problems compared to a control group fed an equivalent non-GMO'd diet.
          2) Modified organism may have a significant survival advantage and become invasive organisms, with all the problems that entails
          3) Generally speaking the modified species can cross-breed with their natural relatives, potentially making the original stock unavailable if we discover serious problems down the road.
          4) GMOs tend to be patented, which means we're putting control of our food supply into the hands of a few powerful companies, and eliminating time-honored farming practices in the process, such as keeping part of your harvest to plant the next season.

          • by onyxruby (118189)

            1. The pig study has long since been discredited, and there has never been a scientifically accepted study that actually showed any harm from GM foods. These foods have been around for over 20 years, so that is more than enough time for any effects and one can literally say it has been studied for decades.
            2. Modified organisms have a significant survival disadvantage because the seed companies breed them so that they can't breed successive generations.
            3. Cross breeding is difficult when you can't generate s

      • You are assuming that Luddites will make rational arguments. It's a test tube T-bone, so it's pretty easy to make it scary.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The only zealot post in this thread until now appears to be from you :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The vegetarians will celebrate because they get to eat 'meat' once more without killing animals.

      There must be some vegetarians somewhere that will, but I imagine the vast majority just won't care. Most who haven't eaten meat for a while just no longer care for it.

    • by Bigby (659157)

      What is worse for the environment? A cow that farts and breathes out CO2 but poops good fertilizer. The electricity required to run a lab that produces the same amount of meat, milk, leather, and fertilizer produced by that cow.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Immerman (2627577)

        Don't forget the methane, IIRC cows are the #1 source of emissions of that far more powerful greenhouse gas. It's short-lived, less than a year in the atmosphere as opposed to CO2's 50+, but when you're on the tipping point those extra forcing factors are important to consider.

        But really cows are horrendously inefficient meat sources - they consume 10kg of grain for every 1kg of meat they produce. Presumably most of that inefficiency isn't in the muscles taking up nutrients, so potentially lab meat could

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      A lot of GM detractors don't like it for legal reasons. As long as Monsanto and the rest stick with their current business practices I am one of them. They don't sell their seeds, they license them. You are not allowed to keep a part of this year's crops to use in the next year. Not that that would do any good with F1 hybrids, but still. Also due to their patents you may get sued due to cross-pollination OR if you switch crops and yet a bit of last year's crop still grows on your fields. Which does happen.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      We're not Luddites. I studied extensively in the natural sciences, including coursework in genetics, when I was in college. Before that I spent a substantial amount of time cleaning up the mess that exotic species made when introduced.

      To suggest that there's anything extreme about being anti-GM is to completely misunderstand the risks that the incompetent research is subjecting us to. Even a normal exotic in the wrong environment can be costly to clean up after. Scot's broom, for example, has to be pulled y

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        I respect that you have actually studied the subject before coming up with your opinion. I also agree wholeheartedly with your stance about invasive species being a bad thing. That being said, invasive species have nothing to GM foods. Unfortunately to force additional sales most GM plants are bred so that they cannot generate subsequent generations. If anything your GM plants are far less likely to cause problems such as you have cited.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      This will divide the extremists. The anti-GM Luddites will go crazy because this is arguably the most anti-organic food on the planet. The vegetarians will celebrate because they get to eat 'meat' once more without killing animals. The vegans will note that animal byproducts are still required for this process to exist at all and still turn their noses up at it.

      Will brains explode with delight with the idea that humans can have their meat without killing cows and all of their related carbon emissions? Will brains explode because the lab grown meat is so expensive that only the very rich can afford it? What will the conscious do with the idea that people get to have meat at all? Will the meat connoisseur snub this lab grown meat versus a nice hamburger from cow #156? Will the greens go nuts because a carbon based food source is being replaced with a lab equivalent that will inevitably be owned by the giant food corps?

      So many heads to explode, so little popcorn.

      I haven't seen any information that says there is less greenhouse gas produced making this "meat." That aside, I agree that the food fight will be amusing. Not sure I'd want a Laburger just yet.

    • by pla (258480)
      Strawmen galore, get your whacking sticks here, $5 per hit! ;)

      Seriously though, anti-GM folks have no "beef" here - Perfectly normal, unmodified meat, grown in a vat instead of a cow.
      Vegetarians don't all snub meat on moral grounds.
      The price should eventually come down to far less than growing meat on an unpredictable animal wandering around eating grass.
      Most environmentalists recognize meat production as a huge resource drain, and should support vat-meat.

      So that really leaves the vegans and the the
    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      because they get to eat 'meat' once more without killing animals.

      Hahaa... I don't think you know very many vegetarians.

      They become so accustomed to replacing the "meat" proteins with beans and grains (quinoa) that eating meat becomes a troubling concept, grown ethically/sustainably or not. The "PETA" vegetarians will find something wrong with whatever you try and serve them so let's not even go there.

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        I've had several girlfriends over the years that were assorted flavors of vegetarian from no red meat to militant vegan. I have known vegetarians that chose the diet for religious, moral, taste and health reasons. Most vegetarians only stick with the diet for a few years before reverting to a normal diet. As with any diet there are advantages and disadvantages to being a vegetarians. I've never met a single vegetarian that wouldn't admit to longing for meat unless they were on the diet from birth. Go to any

    • The vegans will note that animal byproducts are still required for this process to exist at all and still turn their noses up at it.

      Put a time-lapse camera at a random forest, and the whole scene will look just as animate as a bunch of animals.
      This idea will explode some more heads.

  • by saibot834 (1061528) on Monday August 05, 2013 @07:55AM (#44476057) Homepage

    I think lab-grown meat is the future. For quite a lot of people, meat is just too tasty to be given up completely. At the same time, it is an environmental disaster, with the United Nations estimating that animal farming has a greater effect on climate change than ALL of the worlds transportation (that is, cars, trucks, trains, ships and airplanes) combined. Some even say it's responsible for 51% of greenhouse gases emissions [independent.co.uk]. Additionally, factory farming causes billions of animals to suffer [vimeo.com], which is highly unethical. Lab-grown meat avoids both problems.

    Until we can buy lab-grown meat, we should still go Veg, but once lab-grown meat is available, the abolishment of the mass factory farming is much more realistic.

    • by Xest (935314)

      I was amused to see the BBC comment at the end of the article that because Chinese and Brazilian meat production seemed to have plateaued that this was a solution in search of a problem.

      It's as if they're entirely unaware that even if they have plateaued there are still major benefits to producing meats with decreased healthcare concerns (we can avoid things like CJD and TB in lab meat), decreased emissions, decreased destruction habitat for meat production.

      This is an important thing even if the human race

    • by csumpi (2258986)
      Awesome. You can embrace the new kind of "meat" and feel good while chomping on lab grown white strips of gristle grown from the leftovers of my steak dinner.
    • by nbritton (823086)

      The only thing that is a disaster is having 7.1 billion human mouths to feed. Earth has a finite maximum capacity load, and it sounds like we have reached it. We apparently have around 24 million square miles of habitable land, if you divide that out per person it comes to 18 sq. ft per person. 18...

      now get off my lawn!

      • Your calculations are wrong, it's 0.87 hectares [wolframalpha.com] of land per person or roughly the size of a football field. Still a shockingly small area. If every person in the world had a western meat-rich diet, you'd need a whole lot of earths to feed them.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        IIRC estimates are that we're currently at 160% of sustainable capacity...

      • > having 7.1 billion human mouths to feed. Earth has a finite maximum capacity load, and it sounds like we have reached it.

        As long as Home Sapiens act like Home Stupidus then yes, you are correct, however we are nowhere even close to the 24+ billion that the planet can support if we had better Planning and Execution. Greed corrupts and eventually destroys all things.

    • by Ardyvee (2447206)

      What would be your instance on hunting? In theory, the hunters try to minimize the suffering of their prey, aiming to get quick, as painless as possible kills.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Insects are also a very viable option embraced by most of the world's population (though unfortunately not the portion that does most of the eating). 9kg of extremely nutritious low-fat meat per 10kg of feed, versus 1kg of beef. Let the locust-burgers begin!

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Why do you assume lab grown meat is going to be more environmentally friendly? It's definitely going to require more energy input than cattle, which are essentially solar powered. All those climate controlled incubators have to run on something.

  • Tasteless (Score:5, Informative)

    by captain_dope_pants (842414) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:00AM (#44476083)
    A programme about this was on BBC Radio 4 a couple of years back. IIRC both the scientist and the presenter tried a little bit of "burger" grown in a lab and it was tasteless. Not horrible - just.... nothing much. Also the texture wasn't quite right.

    I think the scientist said that meat (muscle) derives a lot of its taste from the surrounding fat when it's cooked - and, of course, this had no fat.

    The next stage on was to make it taste nice - perhaps in the past two years they've got somewhere with it.
  • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:13AM (#44476165) Homepage

    Predicted results, in order of severity (best results first)

    1) "But when are you starting to serve the lab-grown meat?"
    2) "Tasty!"
    3) "Not bad"
    4) "Tastes like chicken"
    5) Vomiting
    6) Addictive; taster cannot stop eating... literally
    7) Turns taster into cow
    8) Turns taster into cannibalistic mutant psychotics
    9) Triggers the Rapture
    10) "Tastes like McDonalds"

  • No Soylent Green jokes yet? Somebody.. please step up!
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      What does this have to do with soybeans and lentils? Oh, wait you were probably referring to the later "inspired by the book" movie weren't you?

      Not much to do with people either, though human *is* probably the most nutritious meat out there (for us at least). But let's face down one ick-factor at a time shall we?

  • So what does it taste like? [youtube.com]

    Also, does it respond to music?

  • 9:00 am Eastern what? Eastern Europe doesn't have that much difference with Western Europe.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      9:00 am Eastern what? Eastern Europe doesn't have that much difference with Western Europe.

      The other timezone is probably wrong too. 14:00 Dutch time (that's written on the Dutch website) is 13:00 London time, currently Western European Summer Time, and 12:00 UTC (which is Western European Time, i.e. London in the winter).

      Editors/submitters: when giving timezones, give UTC, and (if you wish) time local to the event.

  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Monday August 05, 2013 @11:26AM (#44478185)

    I'm still skeptical these will do so well because, quite frankly, vege burgers and other meat substitutes are actually very good alternatives to meat already. I won't claim they're as good, but they are pretty damned close and, considering that they are easier to make, less chance of food borne illness, and healthier for you and the environment, I'd recommend giving them a shot. If the vat grown stuff can be better in cost and taste, then maybe it will do well, but I think the main advantage it has is that there is stigma on the concept of vege burgers and the like. And if protein is a concern, between things like various beans and quinoa, that can be handled without meat too.

    This is a cool idea and I hope no foodie luddites start with the fearmongering (I guarantee in a sooner or later someone out there will start claiming vat grown meat causes cancer), but really I think there is a suitable, and quite possibly superior, technology already here.

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