Friday, May 17, 2013

Petri meat

My Mom and I were just talking about the medical and scientific goal to increase the human lifespan by decades. She mentioned how it would affect the already skyrocketing costs of health care, and I pointed out that at some point the earth will no longer be able to support the expanding population. Physician and tissue engineer Mark Post of Maastricht University thinks the answer to environmental concerns is the production of meat in the laboratory as well as on the hoof. He has developed a technique to grow in vitro or cultured beef from a particular type of stem cell removed from cow necks. The result of billions of cells differentiating, merging, and putting on protein is 20,000 thin strips of fat-free cultured muscle tissue. Dr. Post plans to make them into patties, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, grill them, and serve them up in the coming weeks to make his point about the viability of these techniques. But our minds may not be as quick to change as the technology. Social scientist Neil Stephens of Cardiff University in Wales advises, “This is something very new. People need to wrestle with the idea of whether this is meat or not.”

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