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August 5, 2013 / D.F.Dufty

Synthetic food grown in a petri dish

From slashdot comes news of a scientist who can grow meat that is perfectly edible from a ‘culture’, in other words, in a lab.

“Today, at 14:00 Western European Time (9:00 am Eastern), Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University ( the Netherlands ) will present a world first: he will cook and serve a burger made from Cultured Beef in front of an invited audience in London. The event will include a brief explanation of the science behind the burger. You can witch the event live, online. The project’s fact sheet is to be found here (pdf).”

It’s real meat, too, not some look-alike. These are animal muscle cells that are encouraged to grow and multiply, just as they would if they were part of a complete living organism. HEre are some of the steps involved, as described by the project’s fact sheet from Maastricht University.

The first step is to extract muscle stem cells from animals, usually cows, pigs or chickens. This project uses stem cells obtained from little pieces of fresh cow muscle for instance obtained through biopsy.
– The cells must then multiply, which requires a growth medium.

This could create a win-win situation for vegetarians where they can enjoy the benefits of meat knowing that no animal was harmed in the making of it. It also creates the possibility of synthesizing the meat of rare animals and creating fresh food in space.

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