Friday, July 14, 2006

Vat Grown Meat: Your Future Spam?

New frankenfood on the horizon for you meat eaters! VAT GROWN MEAT. It's a process where they take meat cells and grow them in a culture in the lab. The word "cloning" has been used. The meat cells are grown into a jelly like substance and layered onto each other to create bulk. From what I understand, they will have to be mechanically moved around to simulate muscle movements in order to get the right texture. These will be used in sausage, meat patties and nuggets. I heard on the radio that a sausage company with ties to Sara Lee has an interest. Evidently Australian scientists first made the breakthrough on this technology, with a NASA funded researcher close behind.

Lest my cynical relatives think I am making this up, here is where it has been reported: LA Times, the Washington Post, NY Times Magazine, PBS, BBC, Baltimore Sun, the AP and Reuters. Can't get more mainstream than that. Interesting LA Times article, click here.

New Scientist magazine reports that scientists at Touro College in New York have grown slices of fish in the lab. Here's an excerpt from their article:

Quote: Initial experiments to see if the idea could work were rather grisly. Benjaminson's group cut chunks of muscle five to 10 centimetres long from large goldfish. After washing the chunks in alcohol, they immersed them in a vat of fetal bovine serum, a nutrient-rich liquid extracted from the blood of unborn calves, which biologists usually use for growing cells in the lab.

After a week in the vat, the fish chunks had grown by 14 per cent, Benjaminson and his team found. To get some idea whether the new muscle tissue would make acceptable food, they washed it and gave it a quick dip in olive oil flavoured with lemon, garlic and pepper. Then they fried it and showed it to colleagues from other departments.

"We wanted to make sure it'd pass for something you could buy in the supermarket," he says. The results look promising, on the surface at least. "They said it looked like fish and smelled like fish, but they didn't go as far as tasting it," says Benjaminson. They weren't allowed to in any case - Benjamison will first have to get approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Benjaminson concedes that people might be reluctant to eat food grown in fetal bovine serum - not least because of worries about the transmission of vCJD through any rogue prion proteins it may contain.

He tried growing chunks of goldfish muscle in liquid mushroom extract instead, but although the tissue survived for a week, it did not grow. He is hoping to find a friendlier substitute for bovine serum before trying the technique on chicken, beef and lamb. Endquote.

***CJD? That's the human version of Mad Cow Disease, a fatal disease that attacks your brain. There's evidence out now that a percentage of the people dying from supposed Alzheimer's are really dying from the human form of Mad Cow Disease. This disease can have a 10-30 year incubation period before you get symptoms and die.

And no, your food supply is not safe, because cooking does not kill Mad Cow Disease. It's a mutated protein cell, immune to any medicines or cooking. Authorities will tell you that the danger only lies in eating central nervous system parts of the cow...however, in a slaughterhouse, all kinds of tissues are flying around when they are dismembering the animal. Plus fecal matter.

Maybe vat grown meat is sounding a little more appetizing?

If you'd like information about a company working on this, go on over to New Harvest's website and see what they have to say. Make up your own mind.

1 comment:

gratefulbear said...

"people might be reluctant to eat food grown in fetal bovine serum"

mmm, sounds delicious