Test tube hamburgers

There’s no reason to have beef with this new scientific development.

There’s no reason to have beef with this new scientific development.

Danny Brooks, Staff Writer

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The fight against GMOs has been raging for years now, with most foot soldiers not really knowing much about their opponents. While much of artificial food product is not very healthy or good for you, the whole of GMOs has unnecessarily gotten a bad reputation. One part of this research that is not often is included is the development of lab-grown meats. These products, though not universally supported, could bring an end to the current system of farming animals. Even senior Ben Chong, a known GMO opponent, admits that he sees good things to come from the development of test tube hamburgers.

By utilizing stem cells, researchers have been able to replicate meat from single swathes, some being as productive as 75 generations (2^75 cells). This opens up the possibility of growing meat in a clinical setting with no need for raising animals. The first to pioneer this development in a public way was Mark J. Post, who displayed his meaty prototype in 2013. Though it was criticized for tasting less like beef and more like an “animal protein cake,” it was nonetheless significant progress. However, Paul Mozdziak of NC State has been working on replicating turkeys. The progress in poultry has been somewhat slower than the beefy counterpart, as it is still rather expensive. To grow enough meat to replicate a full turkey would cost roughly $30,000.

While the technology has been around and in progress since at least 2013, the real problem so far with lab-grown meats has been the cost. Some of the initial marks were astronomical, well over $100,000 per pound, made the prospect of the meat being consumer-friendly simply out of the question. However, those numbers have been exponentially declining. In 2015, Memphis Meats put out a projection of roughly $44 per pound, which, while still not practical for the average American, seems much more likely to get there. So long as those figures continue to drop, it won’t be long until they are actually marketable.

While this progress is beneficial, another barrier for lab-grown meat comes from the aforementioned taste. When sampling students at East Lake, the majority of their concerns about this sort of meat were about taste. In general, most students took little issue with the actual idea of meat not coming from animals, and some actually saw this as a positive. This is not a consensus, as Cristina Himelhoch found the idea somewhat jarring.

It seems as though genetically engineered meat is right around the corner, and there is much to change when it actually does come around.

 

 

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