Their aim was to develop a means for astronauts to produce edible meat for use on long voyages, such as a trip to Mars. Vat-grown meat
offers a good source of protein, and would be a welcome change from the
usual freeze-dried fare. But it isn’t very appetizing, particularly
considering that meat developed in this way is essentially a cultured
More recent efforts at the University of Maryland have led to some new methods which may prove useful on the road to Meatville, with the
intent to bring “in vitro” meat to the masses. And they think they may
be able to improve on nature’s recipe while they’re at it.
From the UniverseToday article:
“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.”
Jason Matheny and his team suggest two viable approaches for the meat-o-matic of the future: It could be grown on thin, flat membranes
and then stacked to achieve thickness; or it could be cultured on tiny
beads, then harvested and made into processed meats like chicken nuggets
or ground beef. Either way, to get the taste and texture right, the
meat will need to be stretched and exercised as it goes, just like a
real animal muscle would be.
This technology could spell the end of moral vegetarianism, since animals would no longer be part of the meat-producing process. But it
raises some interesting questions… For instance, would it be acceptable
to use one of these machines to produce meat based on human muscle
tissue? Practically speaking, human meat is extremely nutritious to
humans, and such vat-grown man-burgers would not have originated from a
human. There would also be no risk of cannibalism-related diseases.
But on the other hand… Ew.
Because the idea of vat meat isn’t particularly appetizing, one has to wonder whether these meat machines will become the source of cheap
meat for the massive underclass of the future. The rich will dine on
corn-fed Iowa beef while the poor masses slave away in the underground
factories, lunching on cultured meat tumor-chow laced with
obedience-enhancing drugs. It seems almost inevitable.
If the world embraces the technology, all of this might one day be accomplished by an appliance churning away on your kitchen counter…
producing whatever meat you desire from a small packet of “seed” cells.
Gone would be the concerns of animal welfare, slaughterhouse
cleanliness, and livestock-related environmental impact. In theory, one
cell of meat could be cultured enough to provide for the meat demands
of the entire world.