Test Tube Meat No Longer Science Fiction, Dutch Researchers Say

Rudy Ruitenberg

The idea of growing meat in a laboratory was developed in 1950, however was not patented until 1999. Due to more recent scientific discoveries, this idea is now becoming a reality. This development may help to ease environmental damage caused by the enormity of the animal farming market. Around 70 percent of farmland is used for the production of meat and livestock industry account for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions.

This project is being led by Henk Haagman at the University of Utrecht, he and his team are using stem cells to grow muscle tissue. The reality of buying lab-grown meat in the supermarket may be a few years away, however this development is the first step in the mass production of engineered meat.

“The project will be a success if in four years time it’s clear under what conditions consumers will eat in-vitro meat,” said Cor van der Weele, a philosopher leading the study of the ethical and social issues of cultured meat. Meat produced in a laboratory is “not a meat replacement, it’s real meat,” Van der Weele said. “I’ve been calling it in-vitro meat recently, that’s the technical name,” Van der Weele said. “Cultured meat isn’t appealing and creates too much of a ‘yuck’ reaction.”

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