Delacon conference: 'Is cultured meat the future?'

Growing meat in the lab? Is this the way to go? Mark Post from the Netherlands explained what it entails and was the keynote speaker at the Delacon Performing Nature Symposium. The symposium was held on April 7-8, prior to Victam Asia.

As the world's population grows to an estimated 9 billion by the middle of the century, experts believe even intense livestock farming processes will not be able to match the demand from a growing middle class for meat. "What we are trying today is important because I hope it will show Cultured Beef has the answers to major problems that the world faces," said Mark Post, whose laboratories at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the processes behind lab grown meat ('Cultured Beef').

"Why do we want cultured beef?", Post asked the audience – people working in the livestock industry might see the lab grown meat as a threat. Post: "The human being is a species designed to love meat. But there are some constraints to the production of meat and demand is getting bigger than the supply. That is why we as scientist are looking for alternatives to meat. It can excist next to meat grown on actual animals".

Post explained that the technology is there to produce tissues outside the body. It is just the matter of getting the type of cells (stem cells). "One cell can become 1014cells which is 10000 kg meat. Imagine the huge potential this can have", explained Post. He also agrees that the technique he used at his lab to grow the first lab burger is still too expensive. "If you want to have a good alternative for livestock meat it has to be efficient, sustainable and it should mimic meat.. We also need to work on colour, taste, fat and iron content.

Post concluded his key note presentation by looking at the near future. "We have showed that it is possible to create a beef burger from cells. Now we want to create an actual steak within four to five years from now".

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