Factory-grown meat is coming

February 29, 2012

(Credit: Len Rizzi/Wikimedia Commons)

Dr. Mark Post of Eindhoven University in the Netherlands hopes to produce meat in factories, The Economist reports.

He derives stem cells from cattle muscle,which are then multiplied a millionfold before they are put in Petri dishes and allowed to turn into muscle cells.

He plant to scale the process up by growing the cells on small spheres floating in tanks. Ultimately, he will use scaffolds made of biodegradable polymer tubes to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the interior of the meat.

The nutrients themselves could come from conventional crops, but Post also plans to use algae, which grow faster than vascular plants, to provide the necessary amino acids, sugars and fats.

In a presentation on Advances, Challenges, and Prospects for Cultivation of Tissue-Engineered Meat given at the AAAS annual meeting on Feb. 19, Post said that there is a tremendous amount of work ahead to eventually reach an efficient, cost-effective and high quality meat product, but most of these steps are of a technical nature.

The versatility of the culture process may also result in alternative meat products that, for instance, contain healthier fatty acids, or are blends of various stem-cell sources.