Meaty Initiative: Israeli Scientists To Serve Up Test-Tube Steak
This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Cultured meat — also known as in vitro meat — is as real as any meat, says long-time animal rights activist Koby Barak. To encourage its use, his Modern Agricultural Foundation, together with Tel Aviv University, has begun a trailblazing feasibility study concentrating on chicken breast production.
“By the time meat gets to the consumer, it’s been processed far beyond its original form,” Barak told The Times of Israel. “If we’re already processing it to that extent, why not go all the way and develop a cultured meat industry that will produce meat that will be healthier for people, and for the environment?”
The MAF and TAU study will determine, among other things, how cultured meat, which is grown in a lab or factory from animal stem cells, could be manufactured commercially, and will examine the costs, technology, and potential problems that are involved.
Cultured meat is produced by taking stem cells and placing them in a growth culture (an example would be fetal bovine serum, which is extracted from cow uteruses and is rich with energy substrates, amino acids and inorganic salts to support cell metabolism and growth). The cells would divide and grow, creating solid pieces of meat. The science to develop cultured meat – based on tissue engineering – has been around for several years, and research on developing ways to produce it commercially is being conducted around the world.
Such research is being conducted as well at Tel Aviv University, where Professor Amit Gefen, one of the world’s leading experts in tissue engineering, will lead the first feasibility study on cultured meat production that will be available to the general public, scientists, and manufacturers. “There are a couple of companies working on developing cultured meat, but they are privately held, and are not sharing their research with anyone,” said Barak. “We will share the results of this study, enabling manufacturers and investors to determine what they will need in order to commercially produce cultured meat, how much it will cost, what problems will need to be solved to enable commercial production, and so on.”
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