5th August 2013
World's first lab-grown burger
The first burger made entirely of lab-grown in-vitro meat has been cooked and eaten in London.
Last year, Dutch scientists demonstrated a rudimentary form of synthetic meat, consisting of thin strips of muscle tissue derived from a cow's stem cells. They have now gone a step further by producing a complete hamburger – cooked by chef Richard McGeown and tasted by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald. It was mixed with salt, egg powder and breadcrumbs to improve the taste, with a colouring of red beetroot juice and saffron.
The world is currently using 70% of agricultural capacity to obtain meat from livestock. On current trends, meat demand is forecast to double by 2050. To produce a single hamburger requires 2,400 litres of water and involves the transport and slaughtering of animals, while a kilogram of beef has a carbon footprint of 17 kg (37.5 lb). Artificially-grown meat has enormous potential in terms of reducing this environmental impact and providing a more ethical way of creating food. Independent studies have shown that it would use 45% less energy, produce 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and require 99% less land than traditional methods.
The burger seen in this video cost nearly £250,000 ($384,000) to make. Billionaire co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, funded the project, saying he was doing it for "animal welfare reasons". It could be 15-20 years before such food is affordable and mainstream, but this is clearly a major step towards that eventual goal.