Now scientists are working to create meat in a laboratory.

To produce the patty, researchers will mix lab-grown beef muscle cells with salt, egg powder and bread crumbs. Beet juice and saffron will be added to give a more natural color to the bloodless burger. It’ll be fried up in a pan, and seasoned with a dash of salt and pepper. With any luck, the burger should taste pretty much like your typical ground beef.

Eventually, these brave new ranchers hope that this brave new meat will keep up with a growing population and a growing demand for meat. Mark Post is one of the new cowboys:

“What we are going to attempt is important because I hope it will show cultured beef has the answers to major problems that the world faces,” Post said in a statement issued in advance of the tasting. “Our burger is made from muscle cells taken from a cow. We haven’t altered them in any way. For it to succeed, it has to look, feel and hopefully taste like the real thing.”

Over the past five years, Post and his colleagues in the Netherlands have worked out a system to take stem cells from a living cow, put them into a nutrient solution, and grow them into small strands of muscle tissue. About 20,000 such strands are needed to make one five-ounce burger.


A California-based venture called Modern Meadow is working on 3-D printing techniques for creating artificial meat as well as artificial leather from cultured cells. Andras Forgacs, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, said he expected to come out with commercial leather products within the next few years. “Meat is going to take longer,” he said, due to the technical and regulatory complexities.

Forgacs, whose father cooked up and ate a 3-D-printed pork chop during a TedMed presentation in 2011, doesn’t see Post as a rival. “We’re excited about the progress that Mark Post has made, and will be tuning in to see how his tasting goes,” he told NBC News.

“This is a field that’s going to require innovation from many corners of the world,” Forgacs said. “I hope this creates more awareness for this emerging field of technology.”

A 3-D bioprinted pork chop? A burger from a petri dish? Once again, technology comes to the rescue. One wonders, however, what what sort of surprising consequences are also on the menu.

Question: would you eat this stuff? What if a 3-D bioprinted pork chop tasted better than a “real” one? What does “real” mean in this context? Does it matter?


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  1. It’s not initially aesthetics that should be the concern, though it should say something about an inclination when extraordinary measures are necessary to fulfill this inclination. The imminent concern should be process control. What happens when we have large-scale industrial production of food? We find more and more problems with pathogens. We’re already spraying chickens with ammonia to fight bacteria- are we equipped to handle the consequences of new processes?

    In answer to your question, no, I wouldn’t eat this stuff right now. I’ll let 20-30 million other people eat it for a decade and work out the bugs.

    That said, it is really good for the heart of a man to recognize that something died to provide his meal and to receive something precious, as unto one who has been given authority. Perhaps on those grounds alone, one should fight anything that demeans the death of animals by relegating it merely to the tastes of man. We have the privilege to kill and eat, and our actions do not merely reflect base desire, but delegated authority to rule, guide, and profit from animals. Perhaps it’s possible to work around the death of animals by growing meat in labs, but what is a man who exists merely to receive his desires efficiently rather than with gratitude and humility?

  2. This isn’t good enough. When they can take beef stem cells and grow whole T-bone steaks, then I’ll take an interest. And turkey and chicken breasts, and salmon fillets. Make it the real thing.

    But here’s the scary part. I read a science fiction story once in which ALL meat was produced this way, and if it was mentioned that meat was originally organs of live animals, that chemically and physically the lab-grown food was indistinguishable from animal flesh, it made people vomit. But most people didn’t know. Then a company came out with a new product called ambrosia plus, but it could have been called long pig. If a protein source physically indistinguishable from human flesh can be grown and marketed… should that be allowed? Is it less ethical than cloning any other kind of meat? The story ended without offering a resolution. The final sentence was “No chemical or physical test could distinguish us from cannibals.”

  3. DATELINE: The hometown of IBP, makers of lean finely textured beef (LFTB), better known in the press as “pink slime.”

    At least it (evidently) isn’t pink!

  4. One thing I don’t get and I couldn’t find it in the article but I am guessing that in order to culture these cells they needed bovine serum. Seems kind of pointless to get excited about culturing muscle cells while still requiring the underlying blood serum necessary to do it. I guess asking people to just consume less meat is un-American, as is our overwhelming belief that technology will always provide a better solution.

  5. “I guess asking people to just consume less meat is un-American”

    Don’t you know that it is only these massive intakes of animal protein that enable us to stay ahead of the Chinese and which keep us from becoming another Third World jerkwater? Without at least two Baconators a week our young males will within very few generations devolve into hulking giants with the barest minimum of cognitive abilities, physically impressive, yet able to perform only the simplest mental tasks. And our young women will simply be overdeveloped female simpletons — wide-hipped and large-breasted, suitable for breeding, but with the tiniest of brains.

    Oh wait…

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