Not Coming Anytime Soon: Frankenmeat for the Masses
Would-be manufacturing process would cost us $242 a pound
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2014 4:16 PM CDT
A burger made from cultured beef grown in a laboratory from stem cells is cooked.   (AP Photo / David Parry, PA)

(Newser) – Hungering for the day when the $330,000 Frankenburger will be available to the unwashed masses? Well hold your breath, because a new study looks at the feasibility of mass-producing so-called "cultured" meat, and the chances of you waking up with a goose egg on your forehead are a lot better than the chances of you getting your mitts on a $5 hamburger that was born in a laboratory anytime soon. As Vox reports, "the basic method here entails taking animal stem cells, nurturing them in a growth medium, and then slowly transferring them as they grow into industrial-size bioreactors."

The researchers say a typical bioreactor could produce "56,438 pounds of meat per year," or enough to feed some 2,560 people—though National Geographic notes that figure is predicated on consumption of about an ounce per human per day; Americans consume about 10 times that. One problem: That "growth medium," which would probably be some sort of blood derived from bovine fetuses, would prove not only controversial but pricey; it's estimated at around $946 a gallon, and a big driver in the ultimate pricetag of lab-produced meat. The damage? About $242 a pound. Head over to Vox for a diagram that better outlines the manufacturing process.

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May 28, 2014 12:31 PM CDT
Frankenmeat? In the days of pink slime and 12% additives in many packaged meats? Our digestive systems are geared for road kill, meaning beef that hangs for 28 days--a practice MBAs will not tolerate today because it means the carcass weight shrinks by 12-14%. (Sushi lovers--that prime tuna has to sit for a couple days to give that mouth taste you love.) No wonder we have billions going to anti-acids and heartburn meds. We've tried to speed up meat growing--think "salmon farming"--but it is hard. Nature has all the good designs.
May 28, 2014 1:05 AM CDT
That's an outlandish price for beef or anything else ordinary, but just think: you could savor "narwhal" or "koala [redolent of eucalyptus]" or "anteater" or anything else that's too cute or endangered to hunt and/or otherwise impractical to farm. "No animals were harmed in the making of this meal."
May 27, 2014 9:44 PM CDT
Yeah? Well if these 'biblical' floods and droughts continue much longer we might have to start eating grubs and locusts.