It was strange enough when cloned cow meat entered the food chain, but now one scientist is trying to grow test tube meat in his laboratory. Vladimir Mironov, a biologist and tissue engineer at the Medical University of South Carolina, has been working to grow "cultured" meat for a decade, and is closer than ever to achieving his goal.
Mironov may be my favorite mad scientist since the chemist who had the periodic table engraved on one of his hairs.
Mironov is one of just a handful of scientists around the world who are involved in bioengineering cultured meat. So why would researchers like Mironov want to grow their own meat?
According to Reuters, Mironov believes test tube meat could help solve future global food crises resulting from shrinking amounts of land available for grazing cows and chickens.
Also, researchers have been looking for a way to grow cows that don't fart as much. The methane that is in cow farts is a greenhouse twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Instead of developing a cow that doesn't fart quite as much, Mironov wants to cut out the cow altogether.
The grown meat might also be more efficient to grow than is possible with animals. "Animals require between 3 and 8 pounds of nutrient to make 1 pound of meat. It's fairly inefficient. Animals consume food and produce waste. Cultured meat doesn't have a digestive system," he told Reuters.
He envisions enormous buildings filled with large bioreactors to manufacture "charlem," his shorthand for "Charleston engineered meat," named after the town in South Carolina where he does much of his work.
"It will be functional, natural, designed food," Mironov told Reuters. "How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture."
So, would you ever buy test tube meat that was grown in a lab? Or is that just too weird and potentially unsafe for you? Let us know in the comments section.