Lab-Grown Hamburger Makes It to the Menu

A research team is making hamburgers without the cows.

By Sam Schulz
|  Monday, Feb 20, 2012  |  Updated 5:54 AM CDT
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Scientists are managing to grow one of these in a lab, sans cow.

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And you thought "pink slime" in your hamburger sounded unnatural.

A research team that's growing beef in a petri dish instead of a cow is planning to serve the first ever lab-grown hamburger to a celebrity taster this fall.

The project is being spearheaded by Mark Post, a physiologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and funded anonymously by an investor who thinks lab-grown meat could fundamentally alter the way food is manufactured.

The raising of livestock and production of meat have garnered attention in recent years for how much energy they use and pollution they create. But the new beef Post and his team hope to have an experimental chef grill up in October involves no pasturing, corn feed, methane or butchers.

Instead, scientists grow stem cells in a vat, turn them into thin layers of beef muscle cells and then mince them together with similarly lab-grown pieces of beef fat cells — the way a traditional hamburger is made, minus the stem cells.

As for Post, his initial pet project involved lab-growing sausage meat, but he's not picky. He'll grow the meats his investors want to eat, he said.

"Most people don't believe it's ever going to happen," he told reporters. "My financier was not very interested in sausages."

What nobody yet knows is how the lab-grown burger will taste. So far, the grown samples are too small to find that out, Post said.

Come October, that should be clear.

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