Originally published October 18 2015
Scientists turn to lab-grown chicken meat after spending $300,000 making artificial beef
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Supporters are touting it as a victory against hunger, but in reality it is just another "frankenfood" product that lacks the natural wholesomeness we all need for a healthy diet.
Israeli scientists are attempting to grow chicken in a laboratory, a follow-up to a procedure scientists discovered two years ago to grow beef hamburger in a test-tube.
Prof. Amit Gefen, a bioengineer at Tel Aviv University, has launched a year-long feasibility study into growing chicken in a laboratory setting in a project funded by a non-profit group called the Modern Agriculture Foundation. The group hopes that "cultured meat" will one day replace the slaughtering of livestock animals for food.
As reported by Reuters:
The foundation's co-founder Shir Friedman hopes to have produced "a recipe for how to culture chicken cells" by the end of the year.
The researchers say their task is more difficult than producing the first lab-grown hamburger, a $300,000 beef patty cooked up at Maastricht University in the Netherlands after five years of research financed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
How do you like your chicken - fried or fake?Instead of collecting small fibers of cow muscle into a giant block of meat, Gefen will attempt to essentially craft an entire piece of chicken, beginning with a single cell.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, had offered $1 million in prize money to the first research team that finds a way to use chicken cells to create a commercially marketable test tube meat product. But the deadline of 2014 passed without anyone being able to claim it.
Gefen is an expert in the engineering of tissue. He says he plans to culture chicken cells and then coax them into dividing on their own and multiplying. In earlier research he utilized growth factors that he took from tumors to stimulate cells, but he noted that is an inappropriate technique for food.
He and other researchers said that global meat demand is expected to double between 2000 and 2050, as the world's population sails past 9 billion people. As such, meat-growing proponents say the technology is vital if the planet is to be capable of meeting that demand without irreparably harming the environment.
An Oxford University and University of Amsterdam study found that cultured meat would likely produce about 96 percent less greenhouse gas, use 82 to 96 percent less water and practically eliminate all land requirements necessary for the raising of livestock.
"In the not so distant future we will look back at how we used to raise cows and chickens and put so much effort into getting a small piece of meat," said Gefen.
Effort to grow test tube meat well-financedThere are a number of big-name benefactors interested in investing in the research. They include Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, as well as Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, both of whom have invested in Hampton Creek, which is developing plant-based substitutes for eggs.
Also, Microsoft's Bill gates and Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone have put money into a company called Beyond Meat, while PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has invested in Modern Meadow, a firm that creates food from engineering tissue.
The researcher Gefen says growing chicken in a laboratory setting would be a major step. Chicken accounts for one-third of the world's total meat consumed, which is second behind pork. Chicken consumption is expected to surpass pork consumption at some point in the next 10 years, according to an OECD report, Reuters noted.
Such developments give credence to the term "mystery meat," but they have been underway for some time. PETA has been attempting to fund research into lab-grown "meat" at least since 2012, as we have reported.
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