Lab-grown meat comes in many other names; synthetic meat, cultured meat, clean meat, in vitro meat.
The meat industry and its use of animals is the world’s most inefficient industry. For as long as we can look back in history, people have been eating meat. Humanity’s ever-increasing desire for meat and the billions of animals needed to feed our hunger comes at an enormous environmental cost. One billion cattle beef cows are used to meet demand. These cows consume more fresh drinking water than all humans on the planet, produce environmental pollution than all cars in use worldwide, and eat enough food to feed billions of humans. Livestock farming uses 1/10 of the Earth’s available freshwater and is the leading cause of deforestation.
What is Lab-grown meat?
Lab-grown meat comes in many other names; synthetic meat, cultured meat, clean meat, in vitro meat. This lab-grown meat is made by growing muscle cells in a nutrient serum and encouraging them into muscle-like fibers. The process of making cultured meat is similar to making livestock meat. But unlike livestock, the cells grow outside the animal’s body (in vitro).
We are often asking whether the meat is a genetically modified organism, and the answer is “no”. Genetic modification is unnecessary for the lab-growth meat process. Researchers immortalize animal cells without genetic modification. They create an environment for the muscle cells, and they are doing in this system what they would normally do inside the animal. So they do not need to be re-programmed in any way. That means cultured meat is uniquely GMO-Free.
How is Lab-grown meat made?
Lab-grown meat is made by the controlled culture of animal cells.
Production of cultured meat begins with taking some cells from an animal’s muscle tissue. This operation is done with a small biopsy under anesthesia by researchers. These cells are the stem cells of muscles and called “myosatellite” cells. Stem cells are to create new muscle tissue when the muscle is injured. So, they are very suitable for meat production in the laboratory.
Then, researchers ensure cells proliferating just as they would inside an animal in a medium containing nutrients and naturally-occurring growth factors. Muscle cells proliferate until researchers get trillions of cells from a small sample. When researchers aim the cells to differentiate into muscle cells, researchers stop feeding them, and they differentiate on their own. The muscle cells naturally merge to form “myotubes”. Once enough muscle fibers have grown, the result is a meat that resembles ground beef.
800 million strands of muscle tissue can be produced from a sample taken from a cow.
Why Lab-Grown Meat?
Every year, billions of animals are raised and slaughtered for food. The provision of universally accessible and affordable, healthy and sustainable protein is critical to human nutritional needs. At the same time, it is vital to meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Besides, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, total emissions from global livestock today represent 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Meat production consumes a huge amount of natural resources: 15,000 liters of water to produce a single kilogram of beef.
The world’s population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. In this instance, it will be impossible to grow the animal-based protein supply to match future demand using today’s production systems.
Will it be affordable?
As we mentioned above, the provision of universally affordable protein is vital to meeting the 2030 SDG.
Back in 2013, we watched the first-ever lab-grown burger. The world’s first lab-grown burger has been cooked and eaten at a news conference in London. The small pink patty was proof that it was possible to grow edible meat without slaughtering a single animal.
Companies like Memphis Meats, Mosa Meat, Higher Steaks, and Aleph Farms are all trying to bring to supermarkets around the world cultured meat, but the problem has always been the cost. The cost of producing had taken over $300,000.
But since then the cost of producing this high-tech meat has plummeted day by day. A company called Memphis Meats manufactured a ‘meatball’ for around $1,000, in January 2016.
Is Lab-grown meat vegan?
A vegan diet does not include consuming meat or any form of animal products. For this reason, we can’t define lab-grown meat as a vegan product. Because the ingredients needed to produce lab-grown meat are all derived from animals. However, there is also a slice of vegan Lab-grown meat. A company called Novameat is producing synthetic and vegan steak using 3D printer. Unlike lab-grown meat, most plant-based meats are vegan.
People will always be sensitive about what is on their plate. Despite the welfare and environmental justifications for lab-grown meat, the thought of your burger coming from a lab rather than a farm is a strange idea.
The future of meat is cheaper, faster, and more environmentally friendly.