Monday, November 21, 2011

The $345,000 Burger

From Kate Kelland –  First lab-grown burger to cost $345,000 to produce. Doesn't sound very appetizing!

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 about $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.

"The first one will be a proof of concept, just to show it's possible," Post said from his Maastricht lab. "I believe I can do this in the coming year."

It may sound and look like some kind of imitation, but in-vitro or cultured meat is a real animal flesh product, just one that has never been part of a complete, living animal - quite different from imitation meat or meat substitutes aimed at vegetarians and made from vegetable proteins like soy.

Using stem cells harvested from leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, Post nurtures them with a feed concocted of sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way.

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