Yummy: Lab-Grown Hamburger
The Wall Street Journal reports Startup Producing Cell-Grown Meat Raises New Funding.
German drugmaker Merck and a top European meat processor are backing a startup producing beef from cattle cells, ramping up a race to transform the global meat industry with cell-culture technology. The $8.8 million investment in Netherlands-based Mosa Meat by Merck’s venture investing unit and Basel, Switzerland-based Bell Food Group fuels a continuing effort to fulfill growing global demand for meat via a process that developers say requires a fraction of the resources used in traditional livestock and poultry production.
Mosa is led by Mark Post, a Maastricht University physiologist who unveiled the world’s first lab-grown burger in 2013, and Peter Verstrate, a food technician at the university. Mr. Post’s prototype burger cost $330,000 to develop, but the project encouraged Mr. Post to form Mosa, which previously received funding from Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin.
“We’ve done a lot of work in scaling up the cell culture... to something that can be used on an industrial scale,” said Mr. Post.
Cell-culture meat makers begin by isolating livestock or poultry cells that have the capacity to renew themselves, and place them into room-size bioreactor tanks, similar to fermenters. The cells are fed oxygen and nutrients like sugar and minerals, and can grow into skeletal muscle that can be harvested within a few weeks. That tissue can then be formed into meatballs or chicken strips.
Debate Over the Word Meat
Wired asks "What is Meat, Anyway?"
YOU DON’T TYPICALLY find philosophical bickering at an FDA public meeting. But then again, this was no ordinary public meeting. On Thursday, the agency convened a scrum on so-called cultured meat—animal tissue grown in a lab, derived from just a handful of cells taken from a cow or chicken or fish. Experts, lab-meat companies, and spokespeople from industry groups discussed the technology, regulation, and safety of the stuff, which all seemed to boil down to one weirdly complicated question: What is meat anyway?
“Our definition of meat or beef should pertain exclusively to a protein food product that was harvested from the flesh of an animal in a traditional manner,” Lia Biondo, spokesperson for the US Cattlemen's Association, tells WIRED.
To make meat in the lab, scientists take cells from animals and encourage them to grow by feeding them nutrients, a lot like how the cells would naturally replicate in the animal’s body. But at the moment, they’re only able to make unstructured meat, like chorizo, because it’s incredibly difficult to build the structure of, say, a steak. None of these lab-grown meat companies have actually brought a product to market yet, though a startup called Just, formerly known as Hampton Creek, says it’ll have something out by the end of the year. So at the moment there’s nothing to scrutinize.
Inside the Quest for "Clean Meat"
So, is this meat?
Mike "Mish" Shedlock