Petri dish to dinner plate, in-vitro meat coming soon

Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:35am EST
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By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists are cooking up new ways of satisfying the world's ever-growing hunger for meat.

"Cultured meat" -- burgers or sausages grown in laboratory Petri dishes rather than made from slaughtered livestock -- could be the answer that feeds the world, saves the environment and spares the lives of millions of animals, they say.

Granted, it may take a while to catch on. And it won't be cheap.

The first lab-grown hamburger will cost around 250,000 euros ($345,000) to produce, according to Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, who hopes to unveil such a delicacy soon.

Experts say the meat's potential for saving animals' lives, land, water, energy and the planet itself could be enormous.

"The first one will be a proof of concept, just to show it's possible," Post told Reuters in a telephone interview from his Maastricht lab. "I believe I can do this in the coming year."

It may sound and look like some kind of imitation, but in-vitro or cultured meat is a real animal flesh product, just one that has never been part of a complete, living animal -- quite different from imitation meat or meat substitutes aimed at vegetarians and made from vegetable proteins like soy.

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<p>Dutch scientist Mark Post displays samples of in-vitro meat, or cultured meat grown in a laboratory, at the University of Maastricht November 9, 2011. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir</p>