This story is over 5 years old.


The Public's About to Get Its First Taste of Lab-Grown Hamburger

After years of research and months of talk, the lab-grown burger will make its debut in London next month.
Absolutely not a lab-grown burger. Image: Wikimedia

Just a tad late for a 4th of July barbeque, Dr. Mark Post of the University of Maastricht is officially set to debut his infamous and awesome lab-grown burger. A media alert from Ogilvy Public Relations has the official tasting slated for August 5th in front of an invited audience somewhere in London.

Post's substitute for traditional meat is different from others in that it is made of actual meat tissue derived in vitro (think petri dishes) from bovine stem cells. Stem cells are functionally ambiguous cells commonly found in developing organisms that, given the right chemical environments, "differentiate" to form the specialized cells in tissues throughout our bodies. Post, who fancies himself a "tissue engineer," works off the notion that by mimicking the environments in which organisms develop, he can instigate similarly complex processes, like muscle formation, in his lab.

The end goal is to sculpt as many as 20,000 thin strips of the cultured muscle tissue into a burger, which, as he told the New York Times in May, "tastes reasonably good."

Considering that the burger set to debut cost about $320,000 to make, it probably won't become a mainstay of our meat-centric diets any time soon. Still, it's a significant step in our slow departure from the meat industry in its current form, which is routinely criticized for being unsustainable.

Should it ever come to fruition, an industry for "cultured meat" would save animals while also using less water, land, and energy than our current one. It would result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and probably help us steer clear of some of that good ole' factory farm antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Providing that the taste-test lives up to Dr. Post's rather modest expectations, start crossing your fingers that Dr. Post’s next endeavor is lab-grown bacon.