In five to 10 years, supermarkets might have some new products in the meat counter: packs of vat-grown meat that are cheaper to produce than livestock and have less impact on the environment.Those that wonder what part of a chicken the nugget comes from will soon have their answer: the test tube.
According to a new economic analysis (.pdf) presented at this week's In Vitro Meat Symposium in Ås, Norway, meat grown in giant tanks known as bioreactors would cost between $5,200-$5,500 a ton (3,300 to 3,500 euros), which the analysis claims is cost competitive with European beef prices.
"To produce the meat we eat now, 75 to 95 percent of what we feed an animal is lost because of metabolism and inedible structures like skeleton or neurological tissue," Jason Matheny, a researcher at Johns Hopkins and co-founder of New Harvest, a nonprofit that promotes research on in vitro meat, told Wired.com. "With cultured meat, there's no body to support; you're only building the meat that eventually gets eaten."
While scientists are struggling to recreate filet mignon, they anticipate less trouble growing hamburger.
"The general consensus is that minced meat or ground meat products -- sausage, chicken nuggets, hamburgers -- those are within technical reach," Matheny said. "We have the technology to make those things at scale with existing technology.
None of the experts were sure if there is a large market of early adopters who want to eat test tube meat for environmental, health or ethical reasons.Count me in. I'll by an early adopter for sure for environmental and ethical reasons.