Burgers from a lab? US study says it's possible

While NASA engineers have grown fish tissue in lab dishes, no one has
seriously proposed a way to grow meat on commercial levels.

But a new study conducted by University of Maryland doctoral student
Jason Matheny and his colleagues describe two possible ways to do it.

Writing in the journal Tissue Engineering, Matheny said scientists could
grow cells from the muscle tissue of cattle, pigs, poultry or fish in
large flat sheets on thin membranes. These sheets of cells would be
grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked to
increase thickness and resemble meat.

Using another method, scientists could grow muscle cells on small
three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature.
The resulting tissue could be used to make processed meat such as
chicken nuggets or hamburgers.

"There would be a lot of benefits from cultured meat," Matheny said in a
statement. "For one thing, you could control the nutrients."

Meat is high in omega-6 fatty acid, which is desirable, but not in large
amounts. Healthful omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in walnuts
and fish oils, could be substituted.

"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," Matheny said.

Raising livestock requires million of gallons of water and hundreds of
acres of land. Meat grown from tissue would bypass those requirements.

The demand for meat is increasing worldwide, Matheny said. "China's meat
demand is doubling every ten years," he said. "Poultry consumption in
India has doubled in the last five years."

Writing in this month's Physics World, British physicist Alan Calvert
calculated that the animals eaten by people produce 21 percent of the
carbon dioxide that can be attributed to human activity. He recommends
people switch to a vegetarian diet as a way to battle global warming.

"Worldwide reduction of meat production in the pursuit of the targets
set in the Kyoto treaty seems to carry fewer political unknowns than
cutting our consumption of fossil fuels," he said in a statement.

The Kyoto treaty is a global agreement aimed at reducing production of
so-called greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that help fuel global

Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal.

Ingrid Newkirk