Stem Cell Hamburger

The first test tube hamburger is being tested in London. Volunteers had the opportunity to task beef hamburgers that were created in a laboratory. The burgers are made from stem cells harvested from a cow's shoulder.

It took three months to grow it, using stem cells harvested from a cow’s shoulder. “That’s faster than [raising] a cow,” he said. Stem cells not only proliferate rapidly but can differentiate into different kinds of cells: muscle cells, bone cells, etc. The type of stem cells that Post used, called satellite cells, are responsible for muscle regeneration after injury.

Peter Verstrate, a Dutch food technician who worked with Post on development of the burger and who carried the meat to London by train in a cardboard box filled with dry ice, said that people react badly when they hear the words stem cells. But“we don’t eat stem-cells, we eat muscles,” he said.

The cells were placed in a bioreactor in a nutrient mixture that helps them proliferate. There they grew into thin, 0.02 inch strands of muscle fiber — about 20,000 of those were used to create the burger presented in London.

Is it better for the planet?

Post said that lab- cultured meat can play an important role in the future: Not only could it help feed the planet, but it could also help solve environmental problems stemming from conventional meat production. “At the global level, if all meat would be lab-grown, the greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 80 percent, and the water use by 90 percent,” says Hanna Tuomisto, of Oxford University, who researches potential environmental impacts of lab-grown meat.

Is it nutritious?

As for nutritional benefits of cultured meat, the jury is still out. But Boston University’s Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietician and the author of “Nutrition & You” believes that it has a potential to be healthier than conventional meat. “If they replace the saturated fats with omega-3 fats, that would be great for our health,” she said.

Is it better for the animals?  Here's what PETA says:

“As long as there’s anybody who’s willing to kill a chicken, a cow or a pig to make their meal, we are all for this,”  Ingrid Newkirk, president and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group, told the Associated Press. “Instead of the millions and billions [of animals)]being slaughtered now, we could just clone a few cells to make burgers or chops.”

How about the environmental impact?

In contrasting the environmental impact of conventional and laboratory beef production, an independent study found that lab grown beef uses 45 percent less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle.

Artificially produced meat also produces 96 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99 percent less land.

Most institutes working in this area are trying to grow human tissue for transplantation, to replace worn out or diseased muscle, nerve cells or cartilage.

What about you? Would you eat one of these Franken burgers?




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