You are here

Are Test-Tube Grown Burgers the Way of the Future?

July 19, 2013

Imagine you’re out to dinner and really craving a burger. Your waiter says the burger is excellent, and better yet, the cows were treated completely humanely. In fact, not a single cow was harmed at all to make this burger. It was grown in a test tube using 3,000 strands of meat developed from stem cells. Would you still eat it?

This decision is one you may soon need to make. According to Business Insider, in mere weeks the world is about to experience their first test-tube grown burger. Next month in London the burger, which was created by Professor Mark Post, will be cooked and eaten as a live demonstration of “cultured meat.”

It is predicted that by the year 2050, the world’s consumption of meat will more than double and the demand for meat will be impossible to sustain. In fact, the demand will much exceed the available worldwide resources needed to raise and slaughter that many cows, chickens, and pigs. There simply won’t be enough cattle farms, animal feed, and land to grow the crops used as animal feed. Professor Post hopes that the meat grown in a laboratory at Maastricht University in the Netherlands will solve this problem as an alternative source for meat.

Test tube meat requires far fewer natural resources and creates far less waste and pollution than a traditional cattle farm, which produces millions of tons of greenhouses gases annually. Once the technique for growing meat in a laboratory is mastered, it could even solve the issue of worldwide hunger.

Professor Post also states that the cultured meat is a good source of protein for vegetarians who are opposed to eating meat for ethical reasons, as no cows are harmed or killed to make the meat. However, test-tube grown meat will likely have both the same health benefits and drawbacks as regular meat – high in protein, iron, and other vitamins, but also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Vegetarians or vegans who avoid meat for health reasons will likely steer clear of artificially grown meat.

On the other hand, there is strong opposition to test tube grown meat. The meat, although free of antibiotics and hormones, which are both major concerns associated with factory-farmed meat, is artificially grown and unnatural. For those who believe in consuming the most organic, natural “real” foods, test tube meat is simply not an option.

It could also be argued that growing meat in a lab would encourage people to continue to consume massive amounts of meat. Instead, cutting back on animal products, even if it’s just eating vegetarian one or two days a week, could sustain the resources that we have available now.

What do you think? Would you give a test tube burger a shot? Or is finding an alternative, and natural way, to answer the demand for meat the answer?