Human World

Jason Matheny predicts animal-free meat within the decade

Scientists are working to create meat that comes from a laboratory, not an animal.

Advocates of ‘in vitro meat’ say it could satisfy the world’s growing appetite for meat with less pressure on the environment.

Jason Matheny: The question, I think, is not what’s natural, but what’s best. What’s best for our health, what’s best for the environment.

That’s Jason Matheny, director of New Harvest, a nonprofit research organization for in vitro meat.

Jason Matheny: If we can produce our meat in a cleaner and healthier way, like producing it in vitro, then we could satisfy our global demand for meat, but without all its attendant problems.

According to a 2006 U.N. report, the livestock industry contributes nearly 20% of the world’s greenhouse gases and takes up about 30% of the planet’s useable land. But in vitro meat is grown in what Matheny calls ‘a nutritious soup’ inside of an incubator, which fuels development of muscle cells and connective tissue.

Jason Matheny: It wouldn’t be a whole animal, it would just be the cuts of meat that would be edible. Doing this would dramatically increase the efficiency of meat production.

The final product would look as familiar as a hamburger. In vitro meat could end up in grocery stores within the next five to ten years.

Our thanks to:
Jason Matheny
Director, New Harvest
Ph.D. student
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

September 21, 2008
Human World

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