Saturday, April 12, 2008

Test Tube Meat Could Be Cheaper Than Beef in 5-10 Years

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.

According to a new economic analysis (.pdf) presented at this week's In Vitro Meat Symposium in ├ůs, 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 "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.
Those that wonder what part of a chicken the nugget comes from will soon have their answer: the test tube.
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.

via Wired


Audacious Epigone said...

Count me in. I'll by an early adopter for sure for environmental and ethical reasons.

Likewise. I like to keep it on the DL, but I'm a vegetarian. Since I'm also a pretty big fitness buff, getting adequate protein can be a challenge--lots of milk, peanut butter, and some soy. This would be a great way to expand that menu!

Please keep your readership informed on this one.

Fat Knowledge said...

I will keep on top of this one, but something tells me that we are looking at the 10+ year timeframe.

I bet the FDA will require crazy amounts of testing before letting this come to market.

But that will give us enough time to come up with a new term to describe people who will only eat meat that came from a test tube. Vegtubarians?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic idea. What about beef? if they could create a beef that is more like grass-fed beef than corn-fed beef (much healthier) I'd buy it, even if it was more expensive. If it was comparable, a total no-brainer.

Fat Knowledge said...


I think they are looking at beef, well at least of the hamburger variety. As for the healthiness of it, I would guess that they will be able to make it as lean or as fat and tasty as you want it.

Just keep your fingers crossed that it will available sooner rather than later.

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