Artificial meat

Microscopic image of turkey muscle cells grow in culture.: Image Credit: University of Maryland

A recent article in the journal Tissue Engineering proposes two ways for laboratories to grow artificial meat. One method would be to grow cells from common livestock animals like cows or chickens in large flat sheets. The thin sheets would then be stacked to resemble meat. The other proposed method would be to grow muscle cells on small beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The tissue produced could be used to make processed meat such as hamburgers or chicken nuggets.

The research is being done at the University of Maryland and is based on experiments NASA has conducted to grow artificial meat for space missions.

But why produce artificial meat commercially?

One reason would be to make meat healthier for the consumer. Meat contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acid, which is good, but not in large amounts. The omega-6 fatty acids could be replaced with omega-3 fatty acids which are more beneficial.

Another reason is that raising livestock has a huge environmental impact. Livestock require millions of gallons of water, large amounts of land, and produce huge amounts of waste. The use of artificial meat would help to protect the environment by potentially reducing the number of livestock needed to meet the demands for meat.

Further, the production and consumption of meat has many additional potential issues including meat-borne pathogens and contaminants, antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the routine use of antibiotics in livestock, and inhumane treatment of farm animals.

The author of the paper, University of Maryland doctoral student Jason Matheny, sees so many advantages in the production of artificial meat that he joined several other scientists in starting a nonprofit, New Harvest, to advance the idea.

Would you eat artificial meat?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that's kinda weird... what will it look like when u bring it home??? why not just clone healthier turkeys???

posted on Tue, 07/19/2005 - 10:05am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

According to the report, they would work to make the meat look like the meat you would buy that would come from an animal.

"The challenge is getting the texture right," says Jason Matheny, author of the paper. "We have to figure out how to 'exercise' the muscle cells. For the right texture, you have to stretch the tissue, like a live animal would."

It is very likely that the idea of artificial meat would be hard to pitch to consumers, especially initially, but it would probably appeal to individuals who are concerned about food safety, the environment and animal welfare.

It is probably not a product for everyone, but it could have a market.

Cloning healthier turkeys is one option, but those turkeys still have to eat, they still take up space, and they still produce waste - they are still an impact on the environment. And some would still be concerned about how the cloned animals would be treated. Artificial meat would eliminate these concerns.

posted on Tue, 07/19/2005 - 2:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I don't like it!! Livestock production does not have to have a negative impact on the environment...And it seems much easier and less costly to address the problems that exist in livestock production rather than seeking expensive high tech "solutions." Additionally, how can we know the long term repercussions artificial meat might have on the human body, the environment, the economy (what would happen to all the livestock farmers?), And the environment?

As for the waste that livestock currently produces: perhaps we should be brainstorming ways to deal with it...Afterall, animal wastes provide an important source of nutrients that when recycled back into the soil, give us healtier soils to grow better food with less chemicals.

posted on Fri, 07/22/2005 - 12:36pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

The demand for meat is increasing worldwide. China's demand for meat is doubling every ten years. Consumption of poultry in India has doubled in the last five years. This increase in demand means more livestock - and more space to raise livestock - is needed. While artificial meat may not be the solution to this increased demand, it could help ease it. We do not know what the long-term effects artificial meat will have on the human body, but we can be sure it would be tested before it was introduced. Further, I doubt that given the current demand for meat that livestock farming would cease - rather the artificial meat supply would compliment the meat supply from current sources. Therefore, I do not think it is one or the other - rather a combination of the two. For more information on the environmental impacts of livestock, visit the National Environmental Defense Council's web page on livestock farm pollution.

posted on Mon, 07/25/2005 - 11:56am
Katie's picture
Katie says:

ok well it looks like you should do your research. Livestock farming does have a negetive impact on the environment. watch these videos to see what im talking about or visit http://www.goveg.com and read about the harm of livestock farming on the environment

If you have never lived the vegeterian/vegan lifestyle then im sure that you have not done alot of research on it to know all of the facts about meat dangers and cruelty. With this new technology, people can have meat and still have the benefits of vegeterians.

Just because it's new it doesnt mean that it's bad. CD players are more reliable than record players, cars are more reliable and more comfortable than horse and buggy, etc. Don't knock it til ya try it.

posted on Mon, 07/31/2006 - 5:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

regular meat is just TONS easier (and it probanly tastes better!)

posted on Mon, 07/25/2005 - 4:51pm
Katie's picture
Katie says:

I think that this is a wonderful idea! With the technology that we have and can build, im sure that it can taste just as good if not better and be alot more healthier. I'm sure that it will make tons of money once the ball gets rolling because of vegeterians, wannabe vegeterians who havnt started yet or dont know how to go about it, environmentalist, people with health problems, people trying to loose weight, etc. This can be in hospitals if nothing else at first, but im sure that when it is out for good it will be HUGE! meat is unhealthy, it causes impotence, high blood pressure, high colestoral, etc. Vegeterians are 40% less likely to get cancer, mabye with this new meat, it can be made to do the same as veg food(reduce these diseases) or even better!

posted on Mon, 07/31/2006 - 5:28pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

This article describe NASA-funded research in artificial meat.

posted on Mon, 02/12/2007 - 1:09pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

ok i dont get it!!!
im a vegetarian...
so is this real meat or what??
i really dont get it at ALL!!!!

posted on Sat, 09/01/2007 - 6:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that producing artificial meats would be a good alternitive to regular meats since there wouldn't be all the work and money involved in getting the animals, raising the animals, and proessing the meat from the animal. Also, I would think some people, like vegiterians and anti-animal cruelty groups, would not object to this, since the artificial meat would be healty, and you wouldn't have to kill an animal to obtain the meat. But some people might object to the artificial meat since it's not 'natural'.

posted on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 12:13pm
scn_18's picture
scn_18 says:

I'm waiting to try this as soon as possible because this can be a huge breakthrough of the "Homo sapians" quest for becoming civilized once and for all. Best of luck..Keep up the good work....

posted on Sat, 07/31/2010 - 8:24pm

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