Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Grow Your Own Meat: Chicken Nuggets Without Chickens

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Mmmm, delicious vat-grown chickeny goodness...

(Source: University Of Maryland)
Experiments for NASA space missions have shown that small amounts of edible meat can be created in a lab. But the technology that could grow chicken nuggets without the chicken, on a large scale, may not be just a science fiction fantasy.

...In a paper in the June 29 issue of Tissue Engineering, a team of scientists, including University of Maryland doctoral student Jason Matheny, propose two new techniques of tissue engineering that may one day lead to affordable production of in vitro - lab grown -- meat for human consumption.

...Matheny's team developed ideas for two techniques that have potential for large scale meat production. One is to grow the cells in large flat sheets on thin membranes. The sheets of meat would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked on top of one another to increase thickness.

The other method would be to grow the muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The mature cells could then be harvested and turned into a processed meat, like nuggets or hamburgers.


Okay then. Although the thought of actually eating the stuff makes me retch, I think this in vitro meat idea can do good things for humanity.

Hell, people in third world countries who are starving to death aren't going to care if their meat was grown on a cow or in a lab right? If scientists can eventually develop methods of inexpensively producing meat then more power to them.

But for now I'll be twice as suspicious of those TV dinners that say things like 'rib shaped patties' on the box.

More:

New Scientist: 'Lab-grown steaks nearing the menu'

'Meat Me In The Future'

'Lab-grown fish chunks could feed space travelers'

Wikipedia on 'in vitro meat'.

'Lab-grown designer meat on the menu?'

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