In vitro meat: protein for twelve billion?
May, Adam Stephen Gary
This thesis provides the background for the creative component of this MSciComm – entitled ‘Meating Expectations’ - a 25 minute documentary produced with Rodney August. This documentary covered a novel method of meat production; in vitro meat production, meat grown from stem cells, independent of the animal. The documentary investigates how in vitro meat is made, why it is necessary, the problems that it could solve and the problems that it could create. The general aim of this thesis was to raise public awareness concerning an in vitro meat product. Conventional meat production is inefficient and unsustainable, severely diminishing freshwater quality and using prime agricultural land. It is the leading cause of loss of biodiversity, causes more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector and is undercutting international grain resources and staple food reserves. Today’s escalating population, combined with rising affluence and the resultant unparalleled rise in meat consumption, (particularly in developing countries), is causing severe damage to the environment. In vitro meat production is being researched mainly in the Netherlands and the USA. In vitro meat can be grown from embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells without harming an animal. Relative to conventional meat production, in vitro meat has the potential to be healthier, more efficient and more environmentally friendly, with less chance of disease and contamination. However, at present, the risk of contamination or error in the production of in vitro meat is at the same level as the risk of contamination or error at companies where conventional meat is processed, such as in the production of sausages, hamburgers, nuggets etc. However, challenges remain: there are problems with both the embryonic and adult stem cells, the very foundation of in vitro meat. Circulation restraints mean the growth of well-structured meats, like steaks, is not yet achievable. The optimal culture medium required to ‘feed’ the meat is yet to be ascertained. Presently, because of the small scale of production, culturing in vitro meat is very expensive. Research and technical advances are required to achieve commercial-scale production, but there is limited funding on offer. It may be a long time before a viable in vitro meat product is accessible. Some see social acceptance as the greatest impediment to an in vitro meat product. If an in vitro meat product is produced with all the features of meat, which tastes good, is shown to be safe and is cheap, people would most likely consume it. In vitro meat is almost here, it may provide a cheap protein source for developed and underdeveloped nations.
Advisor: Fleming, Jean
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: The Centre for Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: in vitro meat; cultured meat; lab meat; franken steak; meat production; meat grown from stem cells; Conventional meat production; meat consumption; sustainable meat; humane meat; Meat without slaughter; victimless meat; embryonic stem cells; adult stem cells; protein; somatic stem cells; Dedifferentiation; differentiation; Entomophagy; Fibroblasts; Hypertrophy; in vivo; in vitro; Myoblast; myofibre; myofiber; muscle fibre; myofibril; myotube; myogenesis; Myogenic contraction; Myosatellite cells; quorn; Surimi; tempeh; tofu; Transdifferentiation; agriculture; population growth; diminishing natural resources; limited land; declining grain stocks; rising meat demand; malnourished people; rising affluence; biofuels; higher food prices; global food insecurity; meat disadvantages; history of in vitro meat; muscle development; proliferation; proliferative capacity; tissue restoration; skeletal muscle regeneration; skeletal muscle; tissue engineering; muscle; engineering; culture media; bioreactors; ground meat; processed meat; scaffold based techniques; scaffold; self organizing techniques; structured meat; disease; disease control
Research Type: Thesis