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Agritalk: Lab Grown Meat

EDITORIAL USE ONLY. A burger made from Cultured Beef, which has been developed by Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday August 5, 2013. Cultured Beef could help solve the coming food crisis and combat climate change. Commercial production of Cultured Beef could begin within ten to 20 years. Photo credit should read: David Parry/PA

By 2050 world population expected to reach nine billion people. It means that we have nine billion mouth to feed by then. Wich mean that we have to produce more food, including meat.

But are we really ready for it? With climate change, deseas, energy use, global food shortage, and other problem that we have to face to produce more meat?

Have you heard about lab grown meat before?

Lab grown meat is production of meat outside the food animals by culturing the stem cells derivide from farm animals inside the bioreactor by using advanced tissue engineering techniques.

History of LGM

  • The idea of in vitro meat for human consumption was written long back by Winston Churchill in essay ‘Fifty Years Hence’ later published in book ‘Thoughts and adventures’ in 1932. He declared that “Fifty years hence we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium
  • In 1943 a French science fiction author Rene Barjavel described in vitro production of meat in restaurants in his novel ‘Ravage’ in 1943 later translated as ‘Ashes, Ashes’ in 1967.
  • Alexis Carrel managed to keep a piece of embryonic chick heart muscle alive and beating in a Petri dish in 1912. The muscle tissue grew considerably.
  • Willem van Eelen of Netherlands independently had the idea of using tissue culture for the generation of in vitro meat in the early 1950s. It took until 1999 before van Eelen’s theoretical idea was patented as the concept of stem cells and in vitro culture of cells was yet to emerge
  • SymbioticA harvested muscle biopsies from frogs and kept these tissues alive and growing in culture dishes (Catts and Zurr 2002). Anticipating on the infection risk associated with serum‐based media, other research initiatives have also achieved keeping muscle tissue alive in a fungal medium.
  • Benjaminson et al. (2002) cultured muscle tissue from the common goldfish (Carassius auratus) in Petri dishes aiming to explore the possibilities of culturing animal muscle protein for long term space flights or habituation of space stations. The cultured muscle explants, or biopsied muscle tissue, obtained in the study were washed, dipped in olive oil with spices, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. A test-panel judged these processed explants and agreed that the product was acceptable as food (Benjaminson et al. 2002).


  • In 2013 the world’s first in vitro meat based burger was cooked and tasted by a sensory panel in Riverside Studios in London. The burger contained five-ounce burger patty produced by using laboratory grown beef worth more than $330,000. It took only three months to grow the beef in the laboratory, using stem cells harvested from a cow’s shoulder. The cultured meat produced was reported to be colourless and more like chicken. So a bit of red beet juice and saffron was added to colour the meat. The sensory panel comprised of Mark Post, the scientist who created the cultured meat in his laboratory at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Josh Schonwald, the American author of “The Taste of Tomorrow,” and Hanni Rützler, an Austrian nutritional scientist. The panellists said that the burger tasted, “almost” like a conventional one. No one spat the meat out; no one cringed. The professor Mark Post said that he would expect to see cultured meats in supermarkets in 10 to 20 years. At first, according to experts, it might be a luxury item, maybe in the form of such exotic treats as snow leopard burgers or rhino sausages (Zaraska 2013).

So, how exactly lab grown meat produced?

The very first thing that we have to do is, harvest the tissue cells from the animals. This procedure considered not harmfull to the animal.

After the tissue cells are harvested, the muscel cell and fat cell must be seperated. Then the stem cell will be extracted from the tissue.

The muscle Stem cells are then grown in favorable artificial substrat that contain of amino acid and carbohydrates. The stem muscel cells can growing and form a trillion stem cell. The  stem muscel cell naturally merge together to made a myotube. This myotube will form muscle fibres.

20.000 muscles fibres are coloured, minched, mixed with fats and shape to make a burger patty.

Lab grown meats are not only helping us to cope with the future, it also a solution for a better environment.

Lab grown meet need less water, land, and energy than the conventional meet (wich is come from farm).

Not only that, lab grown meat also have potency to reduce amount of methane that produced by the conventional farm. Ruminants livestock produce methane, around 100 million tonnes each year.

Lab grown meat also considered more healthy than conventional meat, because lab grown meat would be produced in sterile environments, they would be free of such dangerous bacteria.

Advantages of lab grown meat

 Functional and designer meat

In comparison to the conventional meat, in vitro meat can be engineered to be healthier and functional by manipulating the composition of the culture medium, the fat content and fatty acid composition of the cultured meat. Fat content can also be controlled by supplementation of fats after production and the ratio of saturated to poly-unsaturated fatty acids could be better controlled. Harmful saturated fats could be replaced by healthy fats, like omega-3. Moreover, health aspects of the meat can be enhanced by adding factors to the culture medium which might have an advantageous effect on the health, like certain types of vitamins (van Eelen et al. 1999).

 Animal welfare

Hailed by animal activists and meat experts alike as “victimless meat,” in vitro meat bypasses the moral ramifications of standard meat production, avoiding animal death entirely by typically removing cells from the donor animal via biopsy and cultivating cells in medium containing mushroom extract rather than animal blood serum (Hopkins and Dacey 2008; Alexander 2011). Thus in vitro meat production system will reduce the use of animals and theoretically, a single farm animal may be used to produce the world’s meat supply (Bhat and Bhat 2011a; b). If ten stem cells divide and differentiate continually for two months, they could yield 50,000 metric tons of meat (Bartholet 2011). Culturing embryonic stem cells would be ideal for this purpose since these cells have an almost infinite self-renewal capacity. In theory, one such cell line would be sufficient to literally feed the world (Bartholet 2011).

 Reduction in zoonotic and food borne diseases

Due to strict quality control rules, such as Good Manufacturing Practices, the incidence of food borne diseases could be significantly reduced as the chance of meat contamination would be lower in absence of a potentially compromised organism. In addition, the risks of exposure to other hazards associated with conventional meat production systems like pesticides, arsenic, dioxins, and hormones could be significantly reduced.


 Quick production

The current meat production systems are inefficient in terms of nutrient and energy utilization and also take long conversion time with months for chickens, and years for pigs and cows before the meat can be harvested and commercially available. In vitro system takes significantly lower time to culture the meat and takes several weeks instead of months (for chickens) or years (for pigs and cows) before the meat can be harvested. As the time for which the tissue has to be maintained is much less, the amount of energy and labour required per kg of in vitro cultured meat is much lower.


 Availability of exotic meat

As in vitro meat production system uses stem cells for the production of meat, in theory, cells from captive rare or endangered animals or even cells from samples of extinct animals could be used to produce exotic meats in bioreactors. Thus exotic meats could be produced commercially without any threat to the existence of the species. Conventional global trade of meats from rare and endangered animals has reduced wild populations of many species in many countries.


  • Space missions and settlements

For current space missions, supply and physiochemical regeneration (of water and oxygen) are the most cost-effective, but for longer periods and permanent bases, bioregeneration becomes more attractive (Drysdale et al. 2003). A controlled ecological life support system (celss) would not only provide fresh food to the astronauts, but also deal with waste, and provide oxygen and water (Saha and Trumbo 1996; Benjaminson et al. 1998; Drysdale et al. 2003). There are other situations also, like stations in Polar Regions, troop encampments in isolated theaters of war and bunkers designed for long-term survival of personnel following a nuclear or biological attack, in which it is more economical to produce food in situ.


 Alternate protein source

Increasing demand for other protein sources also support the production of in vitro meat which is, unlike the other products, animal-derived and with respect to composition most like meat. Other reasons to produce in vitro meat would be consumer demand as more and more people are interested in newly proposed meat. Further, due to the non-sustainability of traditional meat production, there is a huge market for the in vitro meat. Other factors like prevention of food scarcity that can be expected with an increasing world population also favour the in vitro meat.

Drawbacks and Dangers

Although, in vitro meat is highly advocated by many people for its potential environmental and climatic benefits and also favoured by animal ethics activists but simultaneously it has also generated doubts and criticism (Welin 2013).

 Sensorial characteristics

The colour and appearance of the in vitro meat may have some difficulties in competing with the conventional meat. The cultured meat produced and tasted by a sensory panel in Riverside Studios in London in 2013 was reported to be colourless. The colour of the meat was improved by adding a bit of red beet juice and saffron (Zaraska 2013). Thus new meat processing technologies have to be developed to enhance the appearance and flavour of the developed in vitro meat products. In vitro meat produced initially included yolk-like blobs of self-assembling muscle fibers and tissue monolayers harvested from scaffolds for preparation of communited meat products. However, many innovations are being attempted by using tissue engineering techniques to produce more appealing meat products by using scaffolds seeded with muscle cells that can firm up the resulting meat. Scaffolds developed by using natural and edible biomaterials like collagen that allow for 3-D tissue culture and complex structuring of meat have also been proposed and attempted (Hopkins and Dacey 2008).

 Alienation to nature

Another problem with the in vitro meat production system is that it may alienate us from nature and animals and can be a step in our retreat from nature to live in cities. Cultured meat fits in with an increasing dependence on technology, and the worry is that this comes with an ever greater estrangement from nature (Welin 2013). In the absence of livestock based farming, fewer areas of land will be affected by human activities which is good for nature but it may at the same time alienate us from nature.

 Cost of production and economic disturbances

The extremely high prohibitive cost of the cultured meat is the main potential obstacle, although large-scale production and market penetration are usually associated with a dramatic price reduction (Bhat and Bhat 2011b). In vitro meat production on an industrial scale is feasible only when a relatively cost effective process creating a product qualitatively competitive with existing meat products is established and provided with governmental subsidization like that provided to other agribusinesses (Bhat and Bhat 2011b).

The in vitro meat production will certainly affect the economies of those nations which are involved in the conventional meat production on a large scale and are dependent on the meat export to other countries. This technology will also affect the employment in the agricultural sector in countries with a large scale introduction of cultured meat production. Being close to the cities to curtail the transport cost, these production centres will reduce the environmental pollution but perhaps it will not be so good for countryside.

 Social acceptance

Unnaturalness of cultured meat is being perceived as one of the strongest barriers for public acceptance (Welin 2013). Potential consumers worry about the unnatural character of in vitro meat, however, as Hopkins and Dacey state, “Just because something is natural, does not mean it is good for you (Hopkins and Dacey 2008; Schneider 2013). Ideas of unnaturalness seem, however, to play a large part in much resistance at least in Europe to new food technologies. Whether or not a good argument can be made for the unnaturalness of cultured meat one has to take such perceptions seriously (Schneider 2013).

Further, people may feel in vitro meat as artificial meat and not the real thing and as such they depreciate the value of the meat in the same way they would look down on artificial flowers or synthetic diamonds (Hopkins and Dacey 2008).

Many people who are against the concept of in vitro meat production worry that this technology could result in victimless cannibalism by its ability to culture human muscle tissue (Hopkins and Dacey 2008; Peterson 2006; Mcilroy 2006).

People pay attention to the reaction of disgust in trying to judge whether a new, and especially biotechnological, process is morally permissible and whether it should be legally permissible (Hopkins and Dacey 2008; Kass 1997).

Another objection that is already familiar from critiques of ethical vegetarianism is that animals’ lives will go better, paradoxically, in a world with something like the present meat industry, than in a world with universal or widespread vegetarianism. Further argument is that in vitro meat shall use original cells gathered from some animal in a morally suspect way and that the use of such cells will morally taint all future generations of tissue (Hopkins and Dacey 2008; Hawthorne 2005).

Source :

Journal of Integrative Agriculture Advance Online Publication 2014


In Vitro Meat Production: Challenges and Benefits Over Conventional Meat Production


International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) is the World Biggest Student Association in The Field of Agriculture and Related Sciences. IAAS was founded in 1957 and started with only 8 member countries.For the last 60 years, IAAS has grown into a big organization with 53 member countries and more than 10,000 active members. IAAS Indonesia was found by Mr. Arif Satria on December 29th 1992. By the year of 2020, IAAS Indonesia has 11 Local Committees across the country with more than 1200 active members.

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