Mystery Meat: World’s First Test-Tube Hamburger to Be Served in 2012

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With the help of bovine stem cells, Dutch scientists plan to serve the world’s first laboratory-grown hamburger by the end of the year. The project, which has already cost $330,000, aims to ease the environmental impacts of traditional animal-rearing methods in the meat industry. An anonymous investor hoping to develop “life-transforming technologies” has funded the research, MSNBC reports. According to the donor, lab-grown meat could revolutionize the food industry.

(MORE: McDonald’s Drops ‘Pink Slime’ From Hamburger Meat)

So how, exactly, does one go about creating a test tube burger? First, bovine stem cells are grown in a vat and transformed into thousands of layers of beef muscle cells. The thin layers are then minced and mixed with animal fat, also lab-grown, to form a ball of meat — or something like it. If the team, led by Mark Post, a physiologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, successfully produces that synthetic lump, the burger will be cooked by British experimental chef Heston Blumenthal.

According to U.N. estimates, land used for animal farming takes up nearly a third of Earth’s land mass. And over the next four decades, demand for meat products is projected to double, MSNBC reports. At a news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Post predicted growing meat in a lab “could reduce the energy expenditure by about 40 percent.” Lab-grown meat has also received an endorsement from PETA.

Despite potential upsides, producing lab-grown meat, while innovative, is costly and labor-intensive. It’s also strange. Post said he’s unsure what the burger will taste like, because samples created thus far have been too small. He hopes to debut the burger in October, but expects that full commercialization would take at least 10 years.

Sure, technology and innovation have given us many wonderful, wonderful gifts, but NewsFeed plans on sticking to good old-fashioned beef for now.

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