It is lunchtime in the future. You are hungry and eating a burger. But, the beef inside did not come from a cow. It came from a lab. Scientists are figuring out how to grow hamburger patties in a petri dish.
Now, you might be wondering why would you want to grow two all-beef patties without the cow? It ends up that cows are very inefficient at producing protein. Also, there will be many more mouths to feed in the future. In fact, by 2050, there will be nearly 9 billion people on the planet. That’s a lot of hungry people. Cows can’t cut it.
Additionally, cows produce a lot (like, 10 to 20%) of all the green house gases in the world, because they belch methane. Methane is a powerful gas that traps the heat that the earth is trying to eliminate. So, finding another source of meat is good for the planet.
Making a lab-grown beef patty is a very simple process. There are special cells in your body called stem cells that are used to repair muscles should they become injured. What scientists do is get these stem cells and take them outside of the body and give them an environment to grow and create muscle. And, nine weeks later, you have a hamburger.
So what does the burger taste like? Well, it is a bit dry. There isn’t any fat to hold in the juices. So, researchers are working on making fat too.
Interestingly, the cost of this first burger wasn’t cheap. It cost $25,000 to create it. But, now that these scientists know what it takes to make one burger, they can figure out how to scale up their process.
It will take some time before you see a beaker-grown beef patty. There are still many tests that have to be done and governmental guidelines that need to be met.
But, eventually a beef patty may be made at a 3D printer near you.