Unveiling laboratory-grown hamburgers

Lab made burger

The biggest news this week is the unveiling and testing of the first laboratory-grown hamburger - you can read all the details in NPR's Long Awaited Lab-Grown Burger Is Unveiled in London. In a nutshell Google cofounder Sergei Brin donated $300,000 to fund the growth of a hamburger from a few stem cells extracted from a cow's shoulder muscle. After browning the burger in butter and sunflower oil, the two tasters announced:

"'The texture, the mouthfeel has a feel like meat,' Schonwald put it. 'The absence is ... fat. It's a leanness. But the bite feels like a conventional hamburger. It's kind of an unnatural experience [without condiments].' Rützler agreed the burger was edible, but not delectable. 'It has quite some intense taste, it's close to meat,' she said. 'I thought it would be softer.'"

Apart from the taste, however, we have to acknowledge that this makes us feel queasy. Proponents for this development argue "that humans might one day be able to produce large quantities of meat from very few animals is potentially game-changing, especially for those deeply worried about the environmental and animal welfare costs of industrial meat production." However, like many scientific advances, one has to wonder whether the producers are thinking through all the potentially dramatic ramifications of taking over Mother Nature's role. At the very least, we'd like to hear a discussion of possible risks and safeguards occur at the same time as explaining the virtues of this approach.

Photograph by David Parry, Reuters


  • manycookbooks  on  8/7/2013 at 12:39 PM

    I think the burger created from cow stem cells is an idea, whose time has finally come! How much animal cruelty could be avoided without slaughtering millions of cows and how much more ecologically sound it is for the environment. I realize that it probably won't be routine in my lifetime, but I do hope the research will continue....perhaps for 'pork' burgers, 'turkey' burgers, etc. I congratulate them on this endeavour!

  • ellabee  on  8/7/2013 at 7:28 PM

    Not only does the story make me feel queasy, so does the photo... and Firefox's little images of my frequently visited pages mean I'll be having to look at it for another day. Ecch.

  • FuzzyChef  on  8/8/2013 at 12:04 AM

    So ... Can a vegetarian eat vat-grown beef?

  • Lindsay  on  8/8/2013 at 11:26 AM

    Sorry, ellabee - we'll put up appetizing photos for awhile to make up for it.

  • ccav  on  8/14/2013 at 3:15 PM

    This really scares me. I hope consumers will be told when this is an ingredient. In the US we still can't know for sure when food we purchase contains GMOs or is irradiated. I just want to be an informed consumer and wonder why, if GMOs are so safe, they don't just let us know?

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