Lindsay (dragonzuela) wrote,

Synthetic meat

From an article in Trends in Ecology and Evolution on new issues in 2010 relating to biodiversity:

As a response to environmental pressures, ethical concerns
and human health issues, a variety of research efforts
worldwide are now using technologies developed for bioengineering
medical tissue to grow synthetic meat in the
laboratory [20]. Muscle stem cells can be taken from live
animals, multiplied in a growth medium and stretched to
make muscle fibres [21]. Meat cells grown in a dish
obviously do not move like their real animal counterparts,
so scientists use a stimuli-sensitive scaffold of collagen or
alginate to add texture to the meat. Periodic stretching of
this scaffold, in response to changes in temperature or pH,
exercises the cells. Despite the various technological challenges,
a Dutch sausage maker has developed a process
that transforms pig stem cells into muscle fibres in two
weeks [22]. The greatest hurdle is still price: estimates of
cost per kg vary between $10,000 [21] and $100,000 [23].
There is a promised reward of US $1 million for the first
tasty in vitro chicken meat successfully sold to the public by
the end of June 2012. Should synthetic meat become
commonplace and protein production move from agricultural
areas and oceans to factories, it could reduce livestock-
produced greenhouse gases, demand for agricultural
land and pressure on fish stocks. It might also have an
adverse influence on those vegetation types dependent
upon livestock grazing. The consequences would depend
upon a range of factors, such as whether a majority of
people would eat synthetic meat.
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