In Vitro Meat

Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a burger patty. A study conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2006 estimates that 70 percent of all agricultural land is currently dedicated to livestock production. It currently caters for the needs of seven billion people. These needs are growing rapidly: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that global meat demand will increase by more than two-thirds thanks to a global population of 9 billion people by 2050, caused in part by the rapidly growing middle classes in countries like China and India. As the growth of the human population continues, meat production by conventional means becomes increasingly unsustainable. Cultured Beef might form part of this solution, if muscle cells harvested from a cow can be cultured to create meat that is similar in taste and texture to meat produced by conventional means. As a result, Cultured Beef reduces the need for agricultural land dedicated to meat production, freeing up space to grow crops to be eaten directly by humans. Another benefit of Cultured Beef is that its production results in the emission of fewer greenhouse gases which greatly impact the global climate. In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that currently livestock raised for meat are responsible for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than all global transportation sectors combined. If Cultured Beef were to be produced near population centers, reducing transportation, these emissions would be reduced even further. The process of making the meat starts with stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissue. In the laboratory, these are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals to help them develop and multiply. Three weeks later, there are more than a million stem cells, which are put into smaller dishes where they coalesce into small strips of muscle. These strips are collected into small pellets, which are frozen. When there are enough, they are defrosted and compacted into a patty just before being cooked.

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Original sources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23576143 (Date 08/05/2013)
http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/web/Main/Research1/ResearchUM/FirsteverPublicTastingOfLabgrownCulturedBeefBurger1.htm (2013)

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