Will Future Meat Be Grown in a Lab?

Posted on July 19, 2005

Can you grow chicken nuggets or a steak without needing a chicken or a cow? The UMD Newsdesk reports on a team scientists that think meat can be grown in a lab environment using new techniques of tissue engineering.

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. It is the first peer-reviewed discussion of the prospects for industrial production of cultured meat.

"There would be a lot of benefits from cultured meat," says Matheny, who studies agricultural economics and public health. "For one thing, you could control the nutrients. For example, most meats are high in the fatty acid Omega 6, which can cause high cholesterol and other health problems. With in vitro meat, you could replace that with Omega 3, which is a healthy fat.

"Cultured meat could also reduce the pollution that results from raising livestock, and you wouldn't need the drugs that are used on animals raised for meat."

The benefits are pretty clear if the meat can be shown to be safe and that the human digestive system processes the "artificial meat" the same way it does meat from animals. An obvious downside would be that it doesn't sound very appetizing.

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