Rob Melnychuk, Photodisc, Getty Images
Created by Dutch scientist Dr Mark Post, the first-ever beef patty made in a laboratory will cost whoever fancies eating it a staggering £207,535, making it the world's most expensive burger. The exclusive dish, dubbed the 'test tube burger', will be eaten by a mystery guest who will be chosen by the project's anonymous funder, who is hopeful that celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal will be keen to cook the inaugural dish in October.
Towards mass production
'Farmer' Dr Post from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, is growing the minced meat from cow muscle and fat stem cells. And while research costs have pushed up the cost of the prototype burger, he hopes to see mass production, and thus a more affordable product, in the next 10 to 20 years' time. He's confident that over the course of 2012, he'll produce a burger virtually indistinguishable from one bought on the high street.
These types of seemingly 'unnatural' experiments may not sit well with some, but Dr Post doesn't believe he's 'playing God', but forging an important development for the food industry. He says: "Meat demand is going to double in the next 40 years. Right now, we are using 70% of all our agricultural capacity to grow meat through livestock. You can easily calculate that we need alternatives. If we don't do anything, meat will become a luxury food and be very, very expensive."
With the world's burgeoning population and lack of space, you can see his point. He says that theoretically, each animal has the capability of producing 100 million burgers. So could laboratory-reared meat also be a solution to the world's food shortage?
For environmentalists, test tube meat would mean that the number of cattle being slaughtered would be greatly reduced and in fact, you don't necessarily have to even kill a cow to extract stem cells. And because livestock produce more greenhouse gas emissions than transport vehicles (39% of all methane, 5% of carbon dioxide and 40% of nitrous oxide), fewer cattle could potentially have a healthy bearing on the Earth's atmosphere.
OJO Images, Getty Images
However, not everyone is happy about the development. Farmers will be worst hit if the idea takes off. Myrddin Davies is a fourth-generation farmer from Conwy in North Wales. His farm, Nant y Wrach Bach, has 500 breeding sheep and up to 40 beef cattle, producing PGI Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb. He said: "I'm not convinced by meat which is produced in test tubes. You have to ask if it is viable in the first instance as the cost of growing it is so high and, secondly, what are the repercussions of producing meat this way? Is it safe? It is chemically produced and no substitution for real beef. They are totally different products."
He goes on to say: "Compare growing beef in a test tube to how farmers produce beef; our cattle is born and reared naturally on fresh pastures. We boast traditional farming practices which have been passed down from generation to generation. It's this heritage and tradition which produces quality beef with a distinct taste.
"Provenance is so important that the European Commission has awarded Welsh Beef and Welsh Lamb the coveted PGI status which guarantees its origin and associated quality that cannot be replicated in a test tube."
While the majority of us would rather eat natural meat, our population is still on the increase and with food prices on the up, test tube meat could be the answer we need. At a supermarket near you soon(ish)...
Would you eat test-tube-reared meat? Or do you think it's unnatural, or even unethical? Join the debate in the comments section below and vote in our poll on Facebook.
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Most of our food is reared in factory conditions because it is cheaper to produce it this way. I am not judging the farmers who do this, we asked for cheaper meat, they supplied, something had to give.
Large number of food animals born are from artificial insemination, so if it wasn't grown in a test tube it may have been born from one.
We have inter-bred etc, for yield of milk, meat, wool, eggs et cetera for thousands of years, then complain about DNA tampering.
We feed livestock chemically enhanced feed then criticise a lab for trying to find an alternative. Seriously evaluate what we already do before condemning others.
I like butter, but I still eat a butter/ marg blend most often, it's easier to spread and I'm lazy. I still buy butter, and prefer the taste, while people like me exist so will butter manufacture, others prefer margarine, their choice. I expect there will be a taste difference between the traditional meat and manufactured variety, but to be honest I doubt most would notice the difference in a seasoned 80% or less meat burger.
I applaud the research, even if it goes nowhere it is good to see people are willing to try to help the world at large and suffer the flack for doing so. He is not killing anyone in fact could be doing the exact opposite if he makes food more affordable to the world at large.
I wouldn't eat this thing even if it was nestled in a freshly baked sesame bap, topped with tasty cheese, crisp, fresh salad a slice of pickle and tangy sauce.
Then again, it might make a refreshing change from the minced eyelids and dangly bits that go into your average burger!
You type a good case for farm produce, but I think you are mistaking agriculture and nature. Nature never made anything like a Friesian cow or the turkeys we eat for Christmas. There are similarities but what we eat is largely not natural.
I doubt any of us truly know what we are eating most of the time. There are a number of practices that have been legal and encouraged for years that provide better yield at lower prices, as long as we see a slab of meat we expect it's all OK.
I am not going to drone on about the things we do, but this method of food production is a potential way forward and we will have as much idea what is in our food then as we do now.
Charity for Africa, simple explanation which I expect you already know. Government want to spend money on military to repress populace, we provide money to feed the people, government don't need to spend that money on the people so can buy more guns and fund more troops. Basically our charity indirectly funds corruption and injustice.
There are exceptions to this and it is very surface generalisations, but there is enough truth in it for me not to have any interest in giving to them. The people will suffer with or without my money, until the corruption is brought down substantially funding them will help very few. We have corruption here too, but it's amateur hour comparatively.
Fifty or so years ago, the wheat industry decided to cross breed wheat to make the stalks shorter and the heads bigger. This was supposed to solve the world hunger problem and make the wheat tolerant of bad weather. The real problem is that nobody bothered to test this new "wheat" to see if it was suitable for human consumption. Now, fifty years later, there are more wheat allergies/intolerances and celiac disease than ever before in human history.
I say knock it off with the frankenfood! It's making people fat, unhealthy and God knows what other problems it's going to cause in the future. We need to get back to the natural foods our ancesors ate, the food that our bodies are designed to digest properly and get maximum nutrients from. I won't be touching this frankenfood any more than I eat frankenwheat.
WHERE ARE THE WATER INSTALLATIONS IN AFRICA.
WHERE ARE THE NEW HOUSES FOR THEM TO LIVE IN.
WHERE ARE THE SUPERMARKETS.
WHERE ARE THE POWER STATIONS GET THE IDEA.
I NEVER SEEN ANY GO UP, SO YOU HAVE TO ASK. AFTER ALL THAT MONEY GONE ABROAD. WHY HAVE WE NOT SEEN PIPE SYSTEMS LAID IN THE GROUND TO CARRY THE WATER TO THEM, AND PIPE FEED THEM.
EVERYTHING THESE DAYS IS SUCH A DAM LIE, IM SICK OF IT.
Do any of the proles in favour of eating this frankenstein food know how adversely artificial food like this can effect the human system?,probably not i would bet.Most folks these days are simply like little children,giggling and laughing in the face of hard earned experience.All too willing to spew out spoon fed soundbites given to them by "big brother" calling wise,educated men like myself "cranks" or "crackpots" simply because we dont fall in line with the current brainless,ill informed,mass media given trendy "opinions" because we know full well (due to extensive reasoning and reading) what the agenda is for the control and enslavement of the proles in the coming decades.
The first plank in this manifesto is already well in place,that being the constant rise of the price of even poor quality,grain fed beef.Most people would struggle to buy this these days,making the choice (enforced choice of course,i mean,what else would we eat if we're that poor?) more of a priority.
If anyone is even remotely interested in the world that their sons and daughters will be growing up in,one needs only to read the "plans for the 21st century" or look closely at Agenda 21 to see what they are advocating in the not too distant future.The NGO's have the big money interests on board and currently nothing is standing in their way in accomplishing this disgusting goal
And besides god knows what there putting in it, and half the time they will not tell you anyway.
Why would you trust some one with your life, when they can,t be honest ???????????????
Na you can keep it, i prefer farm produce naturally grown in a field over any of the nosense you have for sale in supermarkets today, never did me any harm and my family has been eating proper meals for years, and has everything i need in one fantastic meal.
NNaaaa you can keep the test tube meat, PROBLEM WITH YOU PEOPLE TODAY, YOUR PLAYING AROUND WITH LIFE TO MUCH, LIFE IS ALREADY PERFECT AS IT WAS PUT TOGETHER AND WHO EVER DESIGNED HUMANS AND ANIMALS, MADE IT PERFECT.
ITS HUMAN MEDALLING THAT WILL MESS UP LIFE, YOU CAN,T HELP IT. GOT TO FIDDLE AND GOT TO KEEP PUSHING BOUNDARIES UNTILL, SOME THING COMES ALONG AND YOU DON,T KNOW HOW TO PUT IT RIGHT.
STOP PLAYING GOD, LET LIFE FLOURISH NATURALLY.
The world is in some state and these guys want £207,535 for a burger, are you kidding me.
This world has its priorities all mixed up, as usual.
If compared to the company the golden arches, just put a round shaped piece of corrigated cardboard in a seeded bun. It will taste the same and be safer for you and better for the enviroment !
Why not ask the question (and INSIST on a fair and honest answer) Whats wrong with eating regular meat anyway?,why the real need for this GM stuff?
And before any one starts quoting the lies and nonsense from various "experts" (self appointed and usually without names) saying that theres too many people to provide for or that its unhealthy etc,etc PLEASE ASK YOURSELVES WHY,IF THIS STUFFS SO GREAT,WONT THE WEALTHY POLITICIANS AND ARISTOCRACY BE EATING IT??
SOYLENT GREEN AND GEORGE ORWELLS 1984...HERE WE COME! LOL
Elizabeth Lynch, didn't you read what it said?
"cow muscle and fat stem cells"
Grown from stem cells, which you don't have many of and I would assume a cow doesn't. But you don't have to actually kill cow to get it. You could take all you needed from a single blood test, really. So it may not be vegetarian, but it will be less painful for the cow than the massititus they get from being milked (which, as any breastfeeding mother will tell you, is excruciating), so it would be a bit hypocritical for a vegetarian to say no. It wouldn't be vegan, true. I'd class it as an animal produce, rather than meat I suppose.
I'd try it. I would want to make sure plenty of testing was done to ensure it was safe first, but I wouldn't outright reject it under the basis of "it ain't natural."
I can see the benefits, especially from a moral point of view of not having to kill anything.
Will it be a vegetarian option? Would a vegetarian eat it? Consdiering no animal was harmed in the making of the burger? Technically, you could say it is not meat. But if someone had grown you a new heart the same way and put it in you, would you take it?
no way.no thanks.no test tube burgies for me
we should call them BURGIES.
After watching a horrendous slaughterhouse video the other day (it still disturbs me when I think of the look on the amimal face as become aware of what happening) I think it is a brilliant idea. It will take the injustice of killing a perfectly innocent animal out of an everyday cooked meal, just because animals cant talk it dosent mean they dont feel pain or worry or panick. I dont care about the farmers that will have to give up their wonderful lifestyles just like they dont care about the animals they send to slaughter - hurry up with this research and while were at it lets hope this will help cure famine and starvation and reduce costs to the everyday family, computers were supposed to be bad for the future at one point but now we wouldnt live without them, we never had TVs or cars at one point either - evolution will happen regardless of a few biggoted non believers, lets push forward, Im one of gods creatures to and I would not like to be eaten by any1 !!!