A Dutch scientist has made genetically engineered food a reality with a $325,000 burger made entirely of test tube meat.
Mark Post, who works at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, received $325,000 from an anonymous donor to attempt to construct a hamburger made from tiny bits of beef muscle tissue grown in a laboratory. The burger is to be cooked and eaten at an event in London in a few weeks.
Using stem cells extracted from the necks of cows, Post cultivated the samples and injected them with fetal calf serum to create 20,000 thin strips of cultured muscle tissue. Despite the lack of fat, Post said the tissue "tastes reasonably good,"
according to the New York Times.
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"In my mind, meat consumption is here to stay, and if you want to do that at a higher efficiency than what is currently done by cows and pigs, you have to explore the possibility of doing that in the lab," Post told ABC News in 2011.
Proponents of in vitro meat argue it will help protect animal welfare and preserve the environment. A 2011 study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology showed that full-scale production of cultured meat could greatly reduce water, land and energy use, and emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases, compared with conventional raising and slaughtering of cattle or other livestock.
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"We already have sufficient technology to make a product that we could call meat or cultured beef, and we can eat it and we survive," Post told the Times. "I'm not by nature a very passionate guy, but I feel strongly that this could have a major impact on society in general. And that's a big motivator."
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