Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you—a burger-eatin’, chicken-finger-dippin’ American—to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells.
One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger.
And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.
That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat.
Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by American agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals.
But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture.
Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market.
A consumer-ready product does not yet exist and its progress is heavily shrouded by intellectual property claims and sensationalist press. Today, cultured meat is a lot of hype and no consumer product.
The truth is that only a few successful prototypes have yet been shown to the public, including a NASA-funded goldfish-based protein in the early 2000s, and a steak grown from frog cells in 2003 for an art exhibit.
More have come recently: Mark Post unveiled a $330,000 cultured burger in 2013, startup Memphis Meats has produced cultured meatballs and poultry last and this year, and Hampton Creek plans to have a product reveal dinner by the end of the year.
Because many in the cultured meat industry see this meat as cruelty-free, animal rights groups have become more vocal about cultured meat in its recent past.
For now, we know that the meat is made by growing animal-derived cells in the lab and harvesting the meat after a month or so.
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