Facing an ever-increasing population, and a growing demand for meat products, the world’s first in vitro meat may offer the beginning of a new solution to the problem, say researchers.
A team of scientists, led by Dr Mark Post, a professor of physiology at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, are currently developing meat products grown from stem cells extracted from cattle. The in vitro process involves growing muscle tissue from a small number of stem cells taken from healthy cows.
Researchers believe the so called ‘test tube meat’, which is grown from stem cells could eventually lead to the reliable, sustainable production of low cost food, without the need for livestock.
The researchers said that as the global population grows over the next few decades, the world’s meat consumption is also expected to double by around 2050.
As a result, lab grown meats such as beef, chicken and lamb could become commonplace.
The researchers are currently working on producing a burger from around 10,000 stem cells extracted from cattle. The cells are left to multiply by more than a billion times, producing muscle tissue that will then be used to make burgers.
In 2009 researchers from Maastricht University also grew strips of pork using similar methods, whilst fish fillets have previously been grown in a New York laboratory using cells taken from goldfish muscle tissue.
The research team said that the first in vitro burger could be ready to be taste tested in less than twelve month's time.
A study by researchers at Oxford University previously suggested that that the process of in vitro meat production could mean a 35 to 60 per cent reduction in energy consumption, in addition to requiring 98 per cent less land and producing between 80 and 95 per cent less greenhouse gas than conventional farming.
FoodNavigator also spoke to Professor Mark Post in a recent podcast on this subject. Click here to listen to the interview .