Building a Better Cowreactor
Salon.com’s Green Lantern blog takes a closer look at the reality of making beef in a lab. The article tells us some utterly fascinating details about how labmeat is made to taste more like real cow:
There has also been talk of adding polysaccharide beads to the bioreactors; as the temperature or acidity of the solution changes, these beads would expand or contract, thus providing the necessary workout for the nascent tissue. The beads would likely be made from the exoskeletons of arthropods and are completely nontoxic.
However, it throws cold water on the idea that you’ll be buying artificial wursts in your local Safeway next year:
Despite considerable hubbub over the technology in recent months, we’re still years—or, more likely, decades—away from affordable lab-grown meat. The current experiments are taking place in bioreactors that measure only a few hundred milliliters in volume, and the longest complete muscle tissues are just 2 centimeters long. Researchers are nowhere close to scaling up their production to market-ready levels, to say nothing of market-ready prices. A Dutch team’s lab-grown pork, for example, would cost around $45,000 per pound—assuming they could make an entire pound of the stuff.
But it’s good to dream about having my own portable beef-growing bioreactor in the basement.