The Latest In Hamburger Technology

The world’s first lab-grown burger – a $330,000 patty created using stem cell technology – was unveiled at a public tasting in London today. Dashiell Bennett describes the scene:

The researchers chose to show off their project in an odd press conference-infomercial hybrid, streamed online, complete with an attractive host and a chef cooking the burger up live in front of the cameras. The volunteer tasters said it was good to eat and a close approximation of a real hamburger, but is still missing some of the qualities of a true burger. One of tasters, an Austrian nutritionist, said that in a blind taste test she should be able to tell the difference, but it’s still “very close to meat.”

Peter Singer is thrilled:

My own view is that being a vegetarian or vegan is not an end in itself, but a means towards reducing both human and animal suffering, and leaving a habitable planet to future generations. I haven’t eaten meat for 40 years, but if in vitro meat becomes commercially available, I will be pleased to try it.

Waldman expects the price to come down:

I could be wrong of course, but this is one of those technologies that I think is a matter not of if but of when.

It may not be possible in 10 or 20 years, but I can’t imagine that a couple of centuries from now our descendants will still have huge pens full of millions of cows and pigs milling about as they await their appointment with the brain hammer. At that point, I suspect they’ll look back at this time in history, when we slaughtered hundreds of millions of animals for food every year, and wonder how we could have tolerated such a thing.

Avi Roy adds:

Compared to conventionally grown meat, cultured meat would require up to 99 percent less land, 96 percent less water, 45 percent less energy, and produce up to 96 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

Michael Specter’s 2011 article “Test-Tube Burgers” offers a primer on the science behind lab-grown meat. More Dish on the subject here, here, and here.