Just for you Mike:
In vitro meat, also known as laboratory-grown meat or cultured meat, is animal flesh that has never been part of a complete, living animal. As of May 2003, some scientists are experimentally growing in vitro meat in laboratories, but no meat has been produced yet for public consumption. Potentially, any animal could be a source of cells for in vitro meat.
As with most experimental products manufactured on the laboratory scale, the current cost of in vitro meat is prohibitive, but industrial production would be much cheaper. For in vitro meat, costs only apply to the meat production, whereas for traditional meat, costs include animal raising and environmental protection (meaning there are fewer negative externalities associated with in vitro meat). However, it is not yet known whether in vitro meat can be made economically competitive with traditional meat.
At the moment, hardly any serious research has been made on the subject of in vitro meat. There are several obstacles to overcome if it has any chance of succeeding.
- Proliferation of muscle cells: Although it is not very difficult to make stem cells divide, for meat production it is necessary that they divide at a quick pace. This requirement has some overlap with the medical branch of tissue engineering.
- Culture medium: Proliferating cells need a food source to grow and develop. The growth medium should be a well-balanced mixture of ingredients and growth factors. Depending on the motives of the researchers, the growth medium has additional requirements.
- Commercial: The growth medium should be cheap to produce.
- Environmental: The production of the growth medium shouldn’t have a negative impact on the environment. This means that the production should be energetically favorable. Additionally, the ingredients should come from completely renewable sources. Minerals from mined sources are in this case not possible, as are synthetically produced nutrients which use non-renewable sources.
- Animal welfare: The growth medium should be devoid of animal sources, although they may initially be more useful than other sources.
- Bioreactors: Nutrients and oxygen need to be delivered close to each growing cell, on the scale of millimeters. In animals this job is handled by blood vessels. A bioreactor should emulate this function in an efficient manner. The usual approach is the creation of a sponge-like matrix in which the cells can grow, and perfusing it with the growth medium.
If they get it to taste no different, meat ends up cheaper, it’s better for the environment, and it stifles pleases the peta freaks… It’s almost like one of those everyone wins situations if they perfect it… which of course means it’ll never happen.