The quest to make in vitro tissue cultivation commercially viable is nearing a milestone: in six months 'synthetic' sausages are supposed to be on your supermarket shelves. Should this indeed be a success, it will radically alter much more than most people realize. This roundup of articles and source materials is meant as an update; may all those interested may be more conveniently informed.
And may we find our ethical way through these most dicey of times without our actions triggering some consequence for which the term 'unleash' would be thought appropriate.
Meat without slaughter: '6 months' to bio-sausages
31 August 2011
by Andy Coghlan
Who needs whole animals when you can grow burgers and sausages from their cells alone, in the lab - and do your bit for the environment too
FIRST we hunted animals for their meat. Then we developed ways to raise them on farms. Now we are on the verge of the next breakthrough. Within months labs could be growing synthetic meat for the table - and not just the usual steaks and burgers either. Meat from exotic animals could one day widen our culinary choices, for those adventurous enough to try.
This week, researchers met in Gothenburg, Sweden, to plot out a path towards meat without slaughter. The idea of pain-free meat has been bandied about in the past decade, but several false dawns later one fact remains unchanged. "No one has produced in vitro meat yet," says Julie Gold of Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, who helped organise the meeting.
The first lab-grown sausage might be just six months away, though, according to Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands - a major pioneer and champion of the technology. Post has experimented mainly with pig cells and has recently developed a way to grow muscle under lab conditions - by feeding pig stem cells with horse fetal serum. He has produced muscle-like strips, each 2.5 centimetres long and 0.7 centimetres wide.
Post makes sure his tissue strips receive daily exercise to give them the same constitution as real muscle. He anchors them onto Velcro before stretching the cells away from the surface. Even so, the strips looks anaemic and unappetising. "It's white because there's no blood in it, and very little myoglobin, the iron-bearing protein," he says. "We are looking at ways to build up the myoglobin content to give it colour."
With funding from an unnamed philanthropist, Post is ready to extend the work to cow cells. "I'm hopeful we can have a hamburger in a year," he says.
But why stop there? "I believe that we can eat all kinds of previously very rare meat," says Stellan Welin, a bioethicist at Linköping University in Sweden and another organiser of this week's meeting. He says our meat choice is largely governed by the animals that have proved easy to domesticate, not necessarily those with the tastiest meat. With synthetic meat, these rules no longer apply. Since all you need to start the process of production are muscle stem cells, these could be obtained from rare or exotic animals relatively easily. Because that could be done without killing the animals, some of the ethical questions posed by panda burgers could be sidestepped, Welin says.
One thing slowing Post's progress is the limited ability of pig muscle stem cells to multiply in culture. They divide only 20 to 30 times, forcing Post to go back regularly and extract fresh supplies from pig tissue.
The In Vitro Meat Symposium
has one message for the world -
"Try the veal!"
Not to mention every other kind of vat-grown meat....
"To produce the meat we eat now, 75 to 95 percent of what we feed an animal is lost because of metabolism and inedible structures like skeleton or neurological tissue," Jason Matheny, a researcher at Johns Hopkins and co-founder of New Harvest.
It looks like the first vat-grown meat products to be commercially available will be ground meats - hamburger, sausage and chicken nuggets. Producing a meat product with a convincingly muscle-like structure will be more difficult, to say nothing of producing a leg of lamb with the bone in it.
There are lots of early examples of vat-grown meat in science fiction; consider Chicken Little from The Space Merchants (1952) and carniculture plants from Four-Day Planet (1961).
I went on telling him about our hydroponic farms, and the carniculture plant where any kind of animal tissue we wanted was grown--Terran pork and beef and poultry, Freyan _zhoumy_ meat, Zarathustran veldtbeest...
Ah, what I wouldn't give for a nice piece of Zarathustrian veldtbeest now that it's grilling season again.
But if you're talking chicken nuggets - and I know you are - you'll want transgenic meat. Margaret Atwood even has a great name for it - ChickieNobs (TM):
What they were looking at was a large bulblike object that seemed to be covered with stippled whitish-yellow skin. Out of it came twenty thick fleshy tubes, and at the end of each tube another bulb was growing.
"What the hell is it?" said Jimmy.
"Those are chickens," said Crake. "Chicken parts. (Read more about ChickieNobs)
Find out about the InVitroMeat Foundation, see how the Dutch Growing Pork In Lab and have some Cultured Meat Straight From The Vat. Oh, and don't forget to Print Yourself Some Bacon
Via Scientists Flesh Out Plans to Grow (and Sell) Test Tube Meat. ...
This is the released summary for the
ESF Exploratory Workshop (EMRC - SCSS)
that was convened by: Julie Gold (SE) and Stellan Welin (SE)
on 31 August-2 September 2011,
in Göteborg, Sweden
The concept of invitro meat – also known as cultured meat or laboratory grown meat – is not new, yet not until the 1990’s and the emergence of the tissue engineering field, did invitro meat become a conceivable reality. Today, the challenge still remains to grow meat in bioreactors, and in large scale, in order to provide a potentially safer, more environmentally sustainable meat source to satisfy the increasing world demand for meat. In order to succeed, public acceptance and debate are necessary. Researchers working in this area are few and scattered, and need to collaborate in order to advance the field.
Read more: http://www.esf.org/activities/exploratory-workshops/workshops-list/workshops-detail.html?ew=10801
Scientists Initiate Action Plan to Advance Cultured Meat
Published Mon 05 Sep 20
Late last week, an international group of scientists took a step closer to their goal to produce cultured meat. They agreed on important common positions about how to bring the research forward during a workshop in Gothenburg, arranged by Chalmers University of Technology and the European Science Foundation.
Many technology components are now coming into place in order to realize the concept of cultured meat. This includes a cell source that is possible to use, several alternative processes to turn these cells into muscle cells for meat, and nutrients free of animal components which can be produced from sunlight and carbon dioxide.
In addition, a life cycle assessment of cultured meat compared to traditionally produced meat was recently published. It shows that the environmental benefits of cultured meat are very large (see attached fact sheet). For example, compared to the rearing of cattle, cultured meat would entail dramatic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water use.
Despite these obvious advantages, the area is still very poorly funded. The interdisciplinary group of scientists has decided to form a community to try to attract more funding and to create a faster development in the area of cultured meat. During the workshop last week, they also reached consensus about important issues in the research field. For instance, the nutrients for growing the cells for meat must be produced with renewable energy and without animal products. The best source for this is to use a photosynthetic organism, such as blue-green algae.
Many important decisions remain about how to proceed in the research and development on cultured meat, and the scientists now feel that it is time to spread the discussion outside the research community.
“We want to invite all stakeholders into discussions to tackle these issues and identify in which directions to go,” says Julie Gold, associate professor in biological physics at Chalmers, and one of the convenors of the workshop. “To date, there are only limited dedicated research activities in cultured meat. To move forward, research activities have to increase substantially.”
The workshop in Sweden engaged an interdisciplinary group of 25 scientists who all have special interest in cultured meat. Some of them have specialties in tissue engineering, stem cells and food technology. Others are environmental scientists, ethicists, social scientists and economists. All of these areas have been discussed during the workshop. The result is encouraging regarding the possibility to actually be able to supply consumers with cultivated meat in the future, and the scientists have not found any crucial arguments against cultured meat.
“On the contrary, several ethical problems would be solved, especially concerning animal welfare issues,” says Stellan Welin, Professor in Biotechnology, Culture and Society, one of the convenors of the workshop.
A European Science Foundation representative took part in the workshop and appreciated the energy from all involved.
”The proposal for sponsoring the exploratory workshop on In vitro meat was enthusiastically accepted by the European Science Foundation, which recognizes in this topic a brand new scientific field, to be deeply explored, given the great potentiality for improving human welfare,” says Giovanni Pacini, ESF.
Link to fact sheet. fact sheet
For more information, please contact:
Assoc. Prof. Biological Physics,
Chalmers University of Technology
Prof. Biotechnology, Culture, and Society,
Patric Wallin PhD,
Manager of Media Relations,
Chalmers University of Technology,
What I want to know is, who, if anyone, will get PETA'a prize money? Right after thinking this thought, it occurs to me as if for the first time ever, that perhaps, just maybe, I should-oughta look that puppy up instead of posing the sort of feckless rhetorical. And look at that -- no scientist has gotten the money, but if this man is correct, PETA has one on their payroll...
Scientist Funded By PETA
To Create Lab-Grown Meat
August 02, 2011
Nicholas Genovese is trying to grow muscle meat separate from an animal. He aims aims for a world that would leave both carnivore and militant vegan satisfied.
So why the move to create petri dish meat past vegan sensibilities and the food industry's potential profits?
The environment and climate change...
There is great advantage to kosher consumers in lab-grown meat.
If the base cells used to grow the meat come from a kosher animal properly shechted, all the product grown from it would be kosher. But its price would be no different than non-kosher lab-grown meat. It could even be that most lab-grown meat products will be kosher just like most breakfast cereals are kosher. And that will make the cost of keeping kosher radically cheaper.
Labs could even grow cuts of meat we no longer eat because of the difficulty of properly removing forbidden fats and the sciatic nerve â€“ except those fats and that nerve would not be there.
Here are a few potential kashrut questions that could arise:
1. Does the initial cell need to be from a properly schechted (kosher slaughtered) animal or would cells from any kosher species no matter how the original animal was slaughtered be permissible, and the final product kosher?
2. If the base cells are extracted from a live animal through a surgical process, would eating the final product be a violation of the commandment not to eat the limb of a living animal?
3. We're commanded not to eat blood, which is why we soak, salt and wash meat, and which is why we don't eat products like blood sausage. The reason for that commandment is because the life force of the animal is in the blood. Will lab-grown meat still need to be soaked and salted even though there is no life as we know it in that meat?
4. Will lab-grown meat be eaten during the days leading up to Tish B'Av, the remembrance day for the destroyed Jerusalem Temples, when Jews traditionally do not eat meat?
5. Will a person have to wait six hours (or whatever amount of time that is your community's custom) after lab-grown meat before eating or drinking dairy foods?
Here are my guesses at how this might shake out years from now when this lab-grown product hits grocery shelves:
1. Basic kosher will not require the source animal to be properly shechted. Mehadrin (what we often mistakenly call glatt today) will require the source cells come from a properly shechted animal.
2. This is a facinating question that could â€“ and probably will â€“ be decided both ways.
3. It won't need to be soaked, salted and washed, but rabbis will probably require something â€“ perhaps a pinch of salt sprinkled on the meat â€“ as a remembrance, so to speak, of the koshering process.
4. No, because meat, even if lab-grown, will still be a food of rejoicing.
5. Yes, because the reason we don't eat or cook meat and dairy together is not clear, and because rabbis will be very reluctant for to there be a difference between lab-grown meat and regular meat in this regard.
... and do be sure to read more
and not just this one article;
this most excellent blog is in fact most excellent by more than a few disparate axes of valuation. A gem.
Let us begin by positing for the sake of inquiry
that breaking dietary restrictions is not good, is to be avoided:
is it not then true that that restrictions that follow the Letter but not the Spirit of the text are also to be avoided, and not only because they disrespect, but also, just maybe, because there was more to them than empty theological epistemics and a pretty and largely metaphysics? Perhaps they were not merely precise. Perhaps they were also accurate.
For instance: what if the injunctions referencing the calf and the milk of its mother, the hoof and the horn and the stomachs, were meant literally, markers of DNA structured that, when fed to itself, prove hazardous to humans in that they foster a virulent immunodeficiency ? No stapling stomachs or splitting hooves would do, although on the surface it would seen to pass. would we know what DNA to alter?
Is Vat-Grown Meat Organic?
Vat-grown meat is still a work in progress. But it is a real possibility. One of the scientists trying to make it a reality is Dr. Vladimir Mironov. He envisions giant factories called “carneries” that create meat the same way a brewery brews beer. One of his many goals is to be able to add taste and texture controlling features like fat and vascular systems to make his test-tube steaks as delicious as the real thing:
“It will be functional, natural, designed food,” Mironov said. “How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture.”
Perhaps by this time next year, at least with respect to dinner, there will be some ethical, non-wasteful, and neither abominable nor desolate means by which when one praises the Lord, as it were, he may hold the ammunition.... It could then be usefully repurposed...
Comments are encouraged, by the way, and much appreciated. Did I mention?
Be seeing you.