Andrew Walsh - Nights on KIRO Radio
Andrew Walsh

Would you eat lab grown hamburger? You could soon have the chance

Would you pay $300,000 for a burger that's all beef but doesn't need all the land and feed to raise a cow? That's how much researchers say it cost them to come up with the world's first real hamburger grown entirely in the laboratory.

"I think this is absolutely brilliant and exciting," says KIRO Radio's Tom Tangney about the news researchers in the Netherlands created a beef patty from the stem cells of real cows. The team from Maastricht University says they took muscle tissue from a cow's shoulder, transferred the cells into a petri dish, then re-grew it into more muscle tissue, the Atlantic Wire reports.

The researchers are calling it Cultured Beef. It's real meat. In a demonstration, volunteer tasters said it wasn't half bad, with a flavor "very close to meat."

"The funny thing for me is they [the researchers] actually say the taste is the least of their problems. They can actually mimic taste in all sorts of ways," says Tangney.

The bigger challenges are things like texture, mouthfeel, and consistency. The laboratory beef doesn't have any fat, a key component in making meat so satisfying. But if they can get that down, KIRO Radio's John Curley is confident the world will embrace it.

"If it tastes close enough that somebody can't detect it and it's better for you and it's cheaper, the thing will sell like hotcakes made in a laboratory," Curley says.

The researchers say the costs will eventually come down and ultimately be less expensive than farmed beef. They say cells taken from one cow could produce 175 million burgers, which takes 440,000 cows in modern farming. And they say with global meat demand estimated to increase 73% by 2050, the earth will run out of land to keep up.

The only criticism Curley has is he'd rather have a juicy steak.

"Why don't you grow a nice piece of filet, why start with a hamburger?" he laughs. "But seriously, I think we need to embrace it sooner rather than later. We're able to grow more corn in a smaller spot, we're able to grow more wheat more efficiently, but we will simply outgrow the amount of land that it takes in order to feed the population, so this is brilliant."

Would you eat "Cultured Beef?"

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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