In 2013, Mark Post, a professor located in the Netherlands, created the first burger made of cultured meat. The meat is produced in a laboratory by culturing animal cells and growing strips of muscle from them. The meat is then put on a scaffold that moves in a way that stretches the muscle thus simulating the movement of a developing living animal.
Apparently this concept is getting close to commercial viability.
Cell-based meat (also known as cultured, cultivated, slaughter-free, cell-cultured, and clean meat) could be a common sight in supermarkets across the west in the next three years, according to the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto. California-based Memphis Meats made headlines for its world-first cell-based meatballs four years ago, and is currently building a pilot plant to produce its cultured beef, chicken, and duck on a bigger scale – with plans to launch more plants around the world.
Lab meat can be produced using almost no greenhouse gas emissions, very little land, and half the energy it takes to raise conventional livestock. It needs few antibiotics and eliminates animal suffering. What’s not to like?
We will have to overcome the “yuk” factor. But it isn’t fake meat; it’s the real thing. We use cultures to propagate seedless fruit. Why not manufactured beef?
As this article points, out there are several companies across the globe racing to scale up production at a reasonable price. One company, Future Meat Technologies, “hopes to get the cost down to $10 per lb. by 2022.”
We should probably take the timing of this with a grain of salt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a radically new technology get off the ground on the time scale predicted by its ardent enthusiasts. Nevertheless, there is money pouring into this nascent industry and the concept has already been proven. It’s only a matter of time before “lab meat” becomes a dinner table staple.
If I were a cow I’d be very concerned about future employment.