Beaker Burgers From In Vitro Meat

In vitro meat, aka beaker burgers (and so forth - see references below), could be big business. You don't want the whole cow - just the steak. Dutch scientists are among the many who are interested in the $61 billion market in red meat alone.

Take a look at this prototype meat; it is described as having the texture of an undercooked egg.

"We're developing a very simplified version of what we know as meat," Mark Post, member of the Dutch artificial meat consortium supporting the research, explains. "The cells are grown in this dish within a growing medium and this unit is where they receive the electrical stimulation. These electrodes ensure there is an electrical current - about 1Hz - passing through the cells. To make these skeletal cells develop into muscle, they need to be constantly exercised, just like in the body." This, he explains, is one of the scientific hurdles for in vitro meat that has not yet been fully addressed. "We can convert stem cells into skeletal muscle cells; however, turning them into trained skeletal muscle appears to be a little harder."

(These muscle cells could use a workout)

"If you make a mass of muscle in a fomenter, you really don't want an infection," Henk Haagsman, professor of meat science at Utrecht, says. "We're working on natural antibiotics to combat this threat. In tissue cultures in the lab we use antibiotics in the medium. It's convenient in a lab, but you can't do this in a big commercial fomenter. Quorn [a meat-substitute made from mycoprotein, a nutritious fungi] has the same issue with fungi and we have to do the same. We have to find antibiotics that are derived from animals. For example, small peptides are found in animals, such as chickens and pigs, which prevent the infection. Maybe they can be used, but it all needs to be sterile from the beginning."

Proving to consumers that in vitro meat is safe to eat will be crucial, he says. This is why so much effort is being made to avoid relying on the "easy street" of genetic modification... But public acceptance of in vitro meat could prove a hurdle equal to the science.

The name chosen for the new product will determine its destiny, says Haagsman: "We don't want the words 'lab meat' to be used. 'Test-tube meat' does not have good connotations. Maybe we should not talk about meat at all. It is muscle - but maybe it's not meat? I would hesitate to call it meat. It's about perception. Meat is associated with killing animals. I was on television once, talking about it, and they held a contest asking viewers to send in suggestions. My favourite was 'krea', the Greek word for meat."

Hey, I've got an idea. Why not ask science fiction writers, who've been working with idea for about the last fifty years, to contribute some good names. Click on the links to get juicy quotes. (That pun was an accident, I swear.)

"Chicken Little from Pohl and Kornbluth's novel The Space Merchants [1952].

"Carniculture from H. Beam Piper's Four-Day Planet [1961].

"Pseudoflesh from Frank Herbert's Whipping Star [1969].

"Vat-Grown Meat from William Gibson's Neuromancer [1984].

"Food brick* from Larry Niven's Ringworld [1970] (*they came in liver - raw liver - for kzinti).

"ChickieNobs from Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake [2003].


Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/2/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 5 )

Related News Stories - (" Food ")

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Self-Driving Domino's Pizza Car
Yes, but can it negotiate entry at your Burbclave?

Mmm, Tasty Duck From A Petri Dish
'Laboratories in every city had produced synthetic food and meats, grown in large test tubes...' - David H. Keller, 1933.

Eden-ISS, Greenhouse In Antarctica
'With this kind of light we could get the gardens going again." - Barbara Humbly, 1983.



Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.






Current News

Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

TMS Decreases Belief In God, Increases Belief In Immigrants
'... setting up the same currents, the same basic ideas, in them all.'

Loomo Mini Transporter Robot Companion You Ride On
'Slowly the [robot] horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'

Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...'

AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...'

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.'

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'

Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'

IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'

HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'

Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.

Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.

Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'

Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.