Move over zombie hamburger, now there’s something stranger. Dutch scientists hope to debut the world’s first laboratory-grown meat by October.
The project, funded by an anonymous investor, uses bovine stem cells to grow thin layers of muscle cells in a tank. These sheets of muscles are then combined with animal fat—also lab-grown—to create a ball of meat that can be cooked like a regular hamburger.
While it seems strange to buy meat from a laboratory rather than a farm, researchers emphasize that the main reason for this $330,000 project is to produce meat without as much impact on the environment.
Meat and dairy production by conventional methods uses more land, water and plants—and creates more waste—than that needed for growing all other human foods. In addition, the worldwide demand for meat is expected to double in the next four decades.
In spite of its labor-intensive nature, growing meat in a lab “could reduce the energy expenditure by about 40 percent,” the lead researcher told Time.
Unlike other cells in your body, stem cells can transform into many different types of cells. This has led to research into using stem cells to treat many kinds of conditions, such as spinal cord injuries and cancer. And now grow meat.
Don’t expect slabs of beef tenderloin to be rolling out of the laboratory any time soon. It will take at least 10 years to commercialize the process. In the meantime, if you want to reduce your environmental impact, try skipping the meat once in awhile.