The most expensive hamburger of all times
In vitro veritas
The idea of the ‘in vitro’, or colloquially ’laboratory meat’ goes back to the beginning of the century. Already in 1932, Winston Churchill himself mentioned in his book Thoughts and Adventures that poultry meat produced in laboratories can be the key to the future. Moreover, another interesting fact is that Aldous Huxley’s dystophic novel, the controversial Brave New World, published the same year, presents similar ideas. Therefore, we can claim that the growth of the population of the world is becoming a century-old problem.
In the recent years, the idea of the laboratory meat started being in the limelight once more because of the 1 million dollar tender of the PETA Association. According to their regulations, anybody who can produce meat suitable for human consumption from poultry cells in laboratory conditions can receive the above-mentioned sum. The deadline was extended, because – although no suitable applications were received – some alternatives have been presented.
The tissue itself can be produced by isolating tiny cells and stimulating them with electronic impulses, thereby creating protein or muscle tissue. This is how the scientists of the University of Maastricht produced the world’s first hamburger, the basic ingredient of which was laboratory meat. There has been no mention of serial production yet and there are only guesses about how scientists will be able to produce bigger chunks of meat in the future. At the moment, the taste of the laboratory beef only slightly resembles the real one, the reason for which is that it does not contain fat tissues or blood, since it has never been part of a real animal.
The advantages of laboratory meat
Humanity’s consumption is significantly high, which must be catered for. However, the available land is limited and furthermore, keeping animals for meat production has a lot of disadvantages, for example, the glasshouse gases, meaning that methane is emitted into the atmosphere. It is also important that normally, from 100g fodder, there is 15g meat produced, which illustrates the huge deficit that characterises the industry. The laboratory environment ensures that infections are avoided and provide an opportunity to add rich nutrients, fatty acids to the tissues that have a positive effect on our body.
The future in a test tube
There are several factors influencing the implementation of the space-research projects of NASA and most problems are associated with the replacement of food supplies. It would be a massive step ahead and would make space research a lot easier if laboratory meat became of significant importance. The production costs could be reduced if it started becoming widespread as soon as possible, because at the moment, they cost a fortune. This is not surprising at all, given that the growing meat tissue requires constant attention, nutriments and electronic impulses, therefore, a hamburger produced in a test tube currently costs over 250.000 Euros.
The laboratory meat could be an attractive alternative for the future generations, especially given the delightful thought the process does not harm animals either.
Translated by Judit Molnár