Netherlands lab produces mystery meat

Taylor Hilsabeck

Would you eat mystery meat grown in a lab if doing so was better for the environment?

With growing concern about climate change and animal rights, activists and environmentalists alike preach about the negative impacts of eating meat. But scientists are currently growing a burger in the laboratory that might please both groups and create a product that seems like something right out of a science fiction movie.

Scientists in the Netherlands are currently working on producing the world’s first lab-grown “test-tube” burger.

Mark Post, head of physiology at Maastricht University and the man in charge of the project, plans to reveal an edible portion of the lab meat to the public this month.

Post is growing meat from a single stem cell. The cell is from the muscle of a special breed of Belgian cattle that grows large and strong. The burger is currently growing inside a petri dish in a lab at the university. The total project costs more than $300,000 and was funded by an anonymous donor.

The goal of the project is for the burger to decrease greenhouse gas emissions made from the production of meat. The lab-grown meat may also mean progress for the animal rights movement, as the lab meat can eventually be a substitute for people who refuse to give up eating meat, just like tofu and “fake” meats are current substitutes.

Meat consumption has huge environmental consequences. Not only do we convert natural ecosystems into rangelands to support cattle, raising cattle also requires a large amount of grain and water. It takes around 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. This includes the water the cattle need to drink and the water used to grow the grain they eat.

Despite possibly helping to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, the test-tube burger may not be the best solution to helping our planet. Not everyone has the same level of trust in science; therefore, even if the test-tube burger eventually hits grocery stores, it is uncertain how many people would feel comfortable eating it.