“Big Meat” Tries To Define Away The Competition

“Big Meat” Tries To Define Away The Competition, by John Rubino.

Silicon Valley is pouring venture capital into startups that use cultured animal cells to grow meat. The hope (now backed with hundreds of millions of dollars) is that they’ll someday replace corn fields, feedlots and slaughterhouses with football-field sized vats from which an entire city’s hamburgers and chicken nuggets emerge sans animal suffering or land degradation.

Most people would probably say that as long as the taste, nutrition and price are comparable to traditional meat, the more the merrier. Let the competition begin.

But not Big Meat. Like most entrenched Establishments, the various factory farming organizations and state farm bureaus have no intention of becoming the next coal industry, virtually wiped off the map by new and better technologies. So they’re trying to head this stampede off at the pass by, among other things, laying claim to the word “meat”:

The world’s first cultured hamburger (yet unbaked here) at a news conference in 2013. Developed by a team of scientists from Maastricht University at a cost of €250,000.

Nebraska Farm Bureau petitions USDA to limit definition of beef, by The Grand Island Independent.

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to not use the term “meat” when referring to all lab-grown and plant-based meat alternatives.

The request to limit the definition of “beef” and “meat” to only products from live animals born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner comes from a strong movement to develop and commercialize alternative protein products, particularly “clean meat,” also called lab-grown or cultured meat, as well as plant-based proteins.

Clean Meat: A Bold Prediction May Finally Come True, by Michael Rowland. Winston Churchill in 1931 said:

We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.

Finally in sight:

You start by taking cells from a live animal and bring it to a lab. Those cells are then placed in a fluid that helps the cells multiply, mimicking the role of blood in a live animal. These cells are then placed in a bioreactor to convert them to muscle tissue. What you’re left with is meat that’s molecularly identical to what you buy at grocery stores or at your favorite barbecue joint. Except this meat requires substantially less water, energy, and land. It also contains no antibiotics or food borne illnesses like salmonella. …

The entrepreneurs who seem to be furthest along are all predicting that clean meat will hit shelves in about five years and could be price competitive with conventional meat within ten years.