Dear 2050, I had a burger made in a lab
A couple of weeks ago, I had a burger. Long story short, I almost became vegetarian.
Don’t get me wrong, meat is amazing! And over millions of people would agree with me on that. Some people like me, were traumatized with envisioning the process of meat production. But as the indecisive person I am, I went back to meat.
In fact, I had a hot dog last night. So while I was having dinner, I starred at the hot dog for a couple of minutes, and thought to myself, that this probably came from a farm, shipped and finally sold to us in a local meat store.
But do you really believe that this process is going to last forever?
It’s probably going to continue for a couple of years.
Soon, the turkey you had for thanksgiving a couple of days ago, won’t be from a farm, but from a scientific lab.
Content of article:
- Cellular Agriculture
- The Process of Lab-Grown Meat
- Advantages / Obstacles
- Perfect Day
Yeah it’s possible! We can literally grow “meat” in labs. It doesn’t only have to be meat, but every single product that comes from living things. The production of agricultural products from cells is called Cellular Agriculture.
big words….but very easy meaning
To get a better understanding, there are 2 types of agricultural products:
- Products made of Living / once-living material (with cells)
- Examples of Cellular Products: Meat, Leather, Fur, Wood
- Products made of non-cellular materials (without cells)
- Examples of Acellular Products: Casein, Gelatin, Vanillin, omega-3 fatty acid.
Confused? How can anything be acellular?
You probably always heard the phrase “cells are always around us” and its true, but just not EVERYTHING. For instance, you. You are made up of a trillion cells, if not more. That’s because you are alive (unless ur a zombie💀)
Living things consists of cells, while non-living things (rocks, air, water) don’t have cells.
When it comes to agricultural products, cellular products are usually the products we are more familiar with. This includes the meat in the burger you ate, or the expensive leather jacket you bought.
Meanwhile, acellular products include viruses. Viruses are parasites that lack the components of cells. Acellular products don’t contain a cytoplasm or any cellular organelles.
Both Acellular and Cellular products can be made by Cellular Agriculture.
Acellular Products are produced by modifying the yeast, by inserting casein genetics. Now, most cells have the same genetic code, therefore the yeast makes an similar casein, which leads you to a glass of fresh milk🥛
When it comes to growing cellular products, the process may be a bit more familiar. Cells are usually “found” inside the tissue. Based on the tissue type or species, cells are derived, then put on a something to grow on (petri dish, etc.) and needs to meet environmental requirements for its growth. An example of a cellular product process, is growing “organs” in labs.
Doctors and scientists grow organs in labs, and are able to replace one’s organ, with their own. But what if we used this same concept, except with meat?
The Process of Lab-grown Meat
Cellular Agriculture isn’t just about meat, but it dives down all the way to stem cells!
The very basics of cellular agriculture, is all about stem cells.
Overview of Stem Cells:
Our entire body is made up of cells. We have nerve cells, skin cells, and even muscle cells. There are several types of cells, but the one of the most important types of cells, are stem cells.
Stem cells are cells that can turn into different cell types.
Our intestines (the long ropes in you) are losing a lot of cells. But stem cells replace these cells, by converting into this specific cell. (what a superhero, right?). The reason why our human body is able to heal all by itself is stem cells.
But there are different types of cells, based on their cell potency.
Totipotent: change into any type of cell
Pluripotent: change into any cell in the 3 germ layer (ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm)
Multi-potent: change into a limited amount of cell types
Types of Cells:
Embryonic Stem Cells: pluripotent stem cells that can divide and become any type of cell in the body
Adult Stem Cells: multi-potent cells that repair damaged tissues and replace dying cells.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPSC): Pluripotent cells that are derived from a patient (normal form — adult cells), changed into pluripotent state.
Explaining cellular agriculture without stem cells, is like explaining gmail without google.
Stem cells plays a huge role in cellular agriculture. Actually, it’s the reason why cellular agriculture is possible.
Stem cells derived from animal → meets growth criteria → becomes into meet
Cows, pigs…..even chickens! All can be made in a lab. Every living thing consists of stem cells. And its kinda essential to have stem cells, when creating meat. The process of producing lab-grown meat is interesting, but not too complicated. First things first, we need to extract muscle stem cells the particular animal. Then, the stem cells are put on a scaffold, to grow.
Every living thing food to survive. We all know that. And stem cells, need the same thing. We call this “food” a serum. Finally, stem cells need a proper environment to grow in.
- Stem cells are derived from a specific species/tissue
- Brought into lab. Usually kept in a petri dish, and surrounded in an environment that promotes its growth
- Stems cells grow into a muscle tissue
- Several muscle tissues are combined, producing meat
- Meat is cooked, and consumed
As muscle stem cells, grow into muscle tissues (a group of several muscle cells), it contained a a circular tube. Each muscle tissue stored in the tube, will become part of the meat.
It may just seem very simple to create, and it’s honestly a great idea. Our world, faces so many problems. If we substituted meat, it may shake some other problems off too. In brief, animal agriculture large areas of land, contributes to deforestation, water waste and contamination, antibiotic resistance, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Advantages of Lab-Grown Meat
- Lower green house gas emissions
Ever heard of climate change? Climate change is one of the world’s biggest problems, and according to the past couple of decades, it doesn’t seem to be getting better. One of the leading causes of climate change, is burning fossil fuels. The Agricultural Industry, uses A TON of greenhouse gases, in cases of farming, livestock, etc. Only by lowering energy usage in animal agriculture, our world would have so much more money saved. Meanwhile, cellular agriculture, doesn’t exactly effect our environment and can be much more effective.
2. Lower Land / Water Use
Have you ever seen a farm? A farm isn’t surrounded by buildings, and there isn’t a lot of people. Instead, there’s nothing there! Not that long ago, I went to the farm, and to be honest, it may just seem like one wooden structure. But farming / livestocks actually use so much land. About 50% of the world uses land for agriculture uses. Cellular agriculture was completely disrupt this factor, since all we need to grow meat, will soon by a single room.
Water is essential for literally everything in this planet. Including meat production. To make 1 lb of traditional beef…..you need 7000 litres!!!
Agriculture alone can consume 75 to 90% of a region’s available freshwater. Cellular Agriculture, may help to solve this problem of water wastage. With the water we use for meat production, we can use it to to solve problems, like water scarcity.
3 . Feeding big numbers
Right now, we have 7 billion people on this planet, and let me tell you, many of those people eat animal products (either meat, diary, or anything from animals). By 2050, our population is expected to rise to 9 billion people, but will we even have enough animals? Would you really want to be forced to leave meat? I obviously wouldn’t. But, lab-grown meat can feed people. and save animals.
These are not the only reasons, why we should have lab-grown meat. There’s a bunch of benefits, including solving world hunger, minimize risk of animals, and nutrition.
Lab-grown meat is definitely the future of food. But, why future?
Scientists have actually created, and eaten in Vitro meat, but why isn’t it here right now? Lab-grown meat, is the world’s next superhero for animals, but in order to produce it, there’s a bunch of problems.
Disadvantages of Lab-Grown Meat
Okay, not trying to be the party-pooper, but lab-grown meat is REALLY expensive! 1 lb of traditional meat cost atleast 5 bucks, and 1 lb of meat produced by Memphis meat costs $2400. The resources used for the growth of meat, is very costly, making it one of the biggest barriers.
would you feel more comfortable eating a burger from an animal or lab? Probably an animal. Growing meat in a lab, might be something very fascinating, but it’s one thing to see something, and it’s another thing to eat something. One of the main reasons, why lab-grown meat isn’t brought in the market yet, is because of the amount of customers that are actually willing to buy the product.
In my View: Our world loves something different. The more different something is, the more interested people will be. Ex. iPhone 11. Not many were a fan of the appearance of the iPhone 11, but everyone grew into by the end of the year. We can use this same concept, and should definitely give it a try of selling lab-grown meat. (The next thing you know, you’re neighbour will be eating meat grown in labs!!)
Company in Cellular Agriculture: Perfect Day
Products like milk, meat, yogurt, or anything that is produced by animals, can be created in labs. The company “Perfect Day” creates products, usually derived from cows. Perfect Day noticed the large demand in milk products, and uses specific techniques, to manufacture edible milk. They pursue this by using the same process of “milk made in yeast”. Their mission to make foods, like diary products, more convenient. They believe that cellular agriculture can disrupt the food industry, starting off by cow-free milk 🐮🥛
Don’t we all love food? Burgers, ice cream, hot dogs, even cheese. They all are made with the help of animals, but this is the most effective way of producing? We have a bunch of problems with our regular animal production, and cellular agriculture, is a a very interesting way of growing meat. It’s estimated that by 2022, lab-grown meat will be brought into the market, and in a couple of decades, it’s going to be much more common.
Lab-Grown meat is the future of food.