Imagine that one day you will go to your local supermarket and find, along the usual cuts of sirloin and pork chops from the usual cows and pigs, lab-grown sirloin and pork chops. Further down the counter, you will find chicken breasts, natural and lab-grown, and, across the hall, natural and lab-grown tilapia fillets. A yellow label is all you have to tell the difference between the two: natural vs. lab-grown meat. Which one would you choose? At least today, my bet is that the vast majority of people would choose the "natural" meats, as opposed to the lab-grown ones, even if scientists guarantee that there isn't any obvious difference between the two at the hormonal, nutritional, or molecular level.
Why is that?
I can hear echoes of what I call the Frankenstein Syndrome, the irrational fear of science going where it hasn't gone before. If we grow vegetables, why can't we grow meat?
If this sounds like something from a scifi movie, think again. Dozens of laboratories around the world are pursuing the elusive feat of producing lab-grown meat, as Michael Specter explored in his somewhat recent New Yorker article "Test-Tube Burgers."
(Reuters) - Scientists are cooking up new ways of satisfying the world's ever-growing hunger for meat.
"Cultured meat" -- burgers or sausages grown in laboratory Petri dishes rather than made from slaughtered livestock -- could be the answer that feeds the world, saves the environment and spares the lives of millions of animals, they say.
Granted, it may take a while to catch on. And it won't be cheap.
The first lab-grown hamburger will cost around 250,000 euros ($345,000) to produce, according to Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, who hopes to unveil such a delicacy soon.
Experts say the meat's potential for saving animals' lives, land, water, energy and the planet itself could be enormous
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Dutch scientist Mark Post displays samples of in-vitro meat, or cultured meat grown in a laboratory, at the University of Maastricht November 9, 2011.