Is Test-Tube Meat the Way of the Future?

burgerAccording to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the world’s demand for meat is expected to increase by more than two-thirds in the near future. With the human population ever-increasing and farmland continually decreasing, this demand is becoming a nearly impossible task.

What creative solutions can you think of for this dilemma? Encourage people to eat less meat? Institute measures to slow population growth? Explore new, untapped meat sources (ever tried pigeon or squirrel?)?

These humble suggestions are much too simplistic for researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Their solution? Test-tube meat! By harvesting muscle cells from a cow and combining it with a solution of sugars, fats, minerals, and proteins, Professor Mark Post and his team have created the first test-tube hamburger. Two brave volunteers tried the hamburger this morning at a private gathering in London, reporting not surprisingly that the meat lacked flavor.

The cultured meat of course lacks real fat, which is where much of the flavor comes from, as well as blood cells which leaves it an unappetizing gray color. But not to worry, the researchers added red beet juice to the mix to make it look more realistic:

test-tube-burger-2

This honestly seems like a bizarre path to go down to solve the growing global food crisis. Obviously we can no longer maintain the status quo, but might there not be simpler, more natural solutions?

In this video, the researchers and other science and technology leaders discuss the viability of the cultured meat option. In a direct counter to what our initial reaction might be, Google founder Sergey Brin states: “If what you’re doing is not seen by some people as science fiction, it’s probably not transformative enough.”

What do you think? Would you eat a test-tube hamburger? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Images via Cultured Beef Project