Thursday, 18 October 2012

In Vitro Meat

Current livestock growth and agricultural practices are the source of many concerns when it comes to assessing the sustainability and viability of maintained production with regards to the earth's population. At current, in order to produce a yield of three kilograms of meat, thirteen kilograms of grain is required, which means that current agricultural practices are operating at a steady loss. The ramifications of these uneconomical practices can be observed today, with an estimated 925 million people living hungry today, and this can only be expected to get worse within the next few decades, as the earth's population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Livestock growth and production also poses a huge threat to the environment, estimated to be responsible for 51% of all greenhouse emissions. Up until now these agricultural practices have been our only option regarding livestock production, but very recently there have been new technological developments in the area of lab-grown, or cultured, meat that could tackle the current issues with livestock sustainability.



In vitro meat, or lab-grown meat, or "schmeat", is the process of growing meat from either embryonic stem cells or stem cells present within muscle tissue (called myoblast or myosatellite cells). These cells are placed in a scaffold and cultured with growth solutions that provide amino acids and nutrients to the cells to cultivate their growth. While this method of lab-grown meat cultivation is still in its most early conception, there have been significant advances in the last year, with scientists at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands recently synthesizing a 3x1cm portion of meat cultivated from pig stem cells. These relatively tiny portions are currently the best that has currently been accomplished in the area of synthesized meat, but given the technology is still in its earliest conception there is no reason to assume that further research into in vitro meat wouldn't yield possibilities for synthetic cultivation in greater quantities and, hopefully, a viable alternative to today's current practices of livestock production.

-Liam Kelly 42616410

Articles:
http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.library.uq.edu.au/science/article/pii/S1466856409001222
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714101036.htm
http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2009/10/livestock-emissions-account-for-51-percent-of-greenhouse-gases/
Image retrieved from:
http://www.nextnature.net/2012/09/eating-in-vitro-meat-the-expectations/





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