Corporate News

Test tube beef inches closer to reality as demand for meat rises

Share Bookmark Print Rating
Professor Mark Post (right) works on creating the world’s first lab-grown beef burger at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Inset: A sample of lab-grown meat in a petri dish at the university. Photo/AFP

Professor Mark Post (right) works on creating the world’s first lab-grown beef burger at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Inset: A sample of lab-grown meat in a petri dish at the university. Photo/AFP 

By Sandra Chao

Posted  Tuesday, August 6  2013 at  19:15

In Summary

  • In vitro meat or cultured beef as it is sometimes referred to is not got from animals born through artificial insemination but rather grown in a culture of animal stem cells.
  • Commercialisation of test tube meat, which was set to begin with the public sale of the first burger at a food fair in London on Monday, provides an alternative to the increased demand expected with doubling of the world’s population by 2050.
  • The scientists and researchers anticipate that after the successful launch it will be possible to have cultured meat sold in supermarkets as early as five years from now.

First came the test tube babies that provided a solution to couples with fertility problems and now here comes the test tube meat.

Share This Story

In vitro meat or cultured beef as it is sometimes referred to is not got from animals born through artificial insemination but rather grown in a culture of animal stem cells. Since 2000 scientists have been looking into the possibilities of growing meat in laboratories with most research being conducted in the US and Netherlands.

Commercialisation of test tube meat, which was set to begin with the public sale of the first burger at a food fair in London on Monday, provides an alternative to the increased demand expected with doubling of the world’s population by 2050.

At the event, according to AFP, scientists unveiled the world’s first lab-grown beef burger, frying it in a little oil and butter and serving it to volunteers in what they hope is the start of a food revolution.

The burger was developed at a cost of more than 250,000 euros ($330,000) with support from Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Tasters described it as “close to meat” in flavour and texture but not as juicy.

The scientists and researchers anticipate that after the successful launch it will be possible to have cultured meat sold in supermarkets as early as five years from now.

Even though the cost of commercialisation of cultured meat is yet to be determined, it may not feature as an alternative for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

A study by the international food policy research institute assessing the impact of climate change on agriculture estimates that global food prices are expected to increase in the next three decades.

According to the study the prices of wheat, rice and maize will rise between 121 per cent and 194 per cent by 2050 due to climate change.

Even without considering the effects of climate change prices of beef products are expected to go up by 33 per cent in 2050 and when this impact is included the costs are expected to be 60 per cent more.

Speaking to theBusiness Daily Iain Wright, director of the Animal Science for Sustainable Productivity at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) said that there was already an increase in demand for livestock products in the region.

“At the moment we see in Africa a huge increase in demand for meat, milk and eggs with the main question being where this demand will be supplied from,” he said.

Demand for livestock products is made worse by the continent’s increasing urbanisation, with more than one billion people expected to live in urban centres by 2050.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Statistics show that Africa is a net importer of livestock products with seven per cent and 15 per cent of the total being meat and dairy products consumed annually respectively.

Mr Wright said that the general increase in global food prices in the next three decades would make it difficult for the region to import these products from other parts of the world to feed the rise in demand.

1 | 2 Next Page »