The Null Device
Scientists in the Netherlands are working on growing artificial meat in the laboratory
without the need of growing an entire animal to go with it.
Under the process, researchers first isolate muscle stem cells, which have the ability to grow and multiply into muscle cells. Then they stimulate the cells to develop, give them nutrients and exercise them with electric current to build bulk.
After perfecting that process, scientists will then need to figure out how to layer tissues to add more bulk, since meat grown in petri dishes lacks the blood vessels needed to deliver nutrients through thick muscle fibers.
And then there is the question of fat, to add flavor.
Growing something vaguely like processed meat, consisting of a mass of undifferentiated muscle cells, is one thing; giving something with the structure of real muscle tissue is another. And while the process is both more efficient than keeping animals (in terms of energy input, farming livestock for meat is orders of magnitude more expensive per calorie than growing crops) and doesn't involve killing animals, the idea of eating meat not from a slaughtered animal still fills people with visceral disgust (in a way that killing animals for meat, for the most part, doesn't; presumably because our ancestors have been doing it, one way or another, for millions of years), and so cultured meat may be slow to find acceptance.
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