Test-Tube T-Bones: It's What for Dinner (in a Few Years)

More on the promise of vat-grown meat comes our way from Der Spiegel via Arts & Letters Daily:

Test-Tube T-Bones on the Horizon Say Researchers

...Two years ago, at an exhibit in the French city of Nantes titled "L'Art Biotech," Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr and Guy Ben-Ary dined on "tiny polymers stuffed with clawed frog cell a la Davis, flambéed with Calvados." The artists, part of the Australian "Tissue Culture Art Project," called their installation "Disembodied Cuisine." They had mounted tissue cells from frogs onto small biopolymer substrates -- about three centimeters in diameter -- and watched as they grew into small "steaks." The four frogs from which the tissue had been taken looked on from a nearby aquarium....

It's not just frog meat that may soon be jumping from Petri dishes onto your plate. Laboratories, some hope, may someday replace slaughterhouses and even now, researchers are working feverishly to pull steaks and hamburger out of their pipettes. Their goal is the development of giant bioreactors where butcher shop wares are grown out of cell cultures, potentially forever relegating mass-production chicken farms, veal calf production and pigsties to agriculture museums. One day, say some scientists, meat incubators could become standard kitchen equipment, allowing consumers to grow their own liver pate and meat balls, turkey sausage and smoked salami.

More--including a picture of a pretty grotesque-looking frog "steak"--here.

Hit & Run checked vat meat for doneness here.

Reason's Ron Bailey--the Liberation Biology author rumored to be slowly replacing his organs with jerry-rigged biotech alternatives--checked out the genetically altered artscape here and gave two thumbs up to pink mice and petri dishes.

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  • ||

    Wow, I feel like such a Luddite!

  • ||

    Shoot, forgot to put on disclaimers:

    I am not calling for any law barring people from eating vat-grown meat or whatever else they like. I am not even going to protest it.

    But I think I'll stick to the farm-grown stuff for now. I dunno, something just seems odd about it, and I will exercise my right to put what I want into my body if I can obtain it at a mutually agreed upon price, yadda yadda.

    The absence of any other disclaimer should not be taken as an implication that I am a statist. Offer void where prohibited. Consult He of Many Names for legal definitions of terms contained herein. I am not responsible for any aggravation you may experience if you misinterpret this.

  • ||

    How come every time there's a new technology (nuclear power, DNA tech, computers) somebody guesses it's going to end up in your kitchen?

  • ||

    thoreau, I am with you on that one.

    Now for the $100k question. If I refuse to purchase vat grown meat, but instead raise my frogs the old fashioned way, can I be prohibited from doing so by the "Interstate Commerce Clause"?

  • ||

    Anyone else read "Oryx and Crake?"

    It's Chickiebob!

  • ||

    thoreau,

    My wife says that the placentas she stores in vacuum sealed bags for research, etc. look like roast beef. :)

  • Phil||

    See, as a vegetarian who is one largely because of the lack of humane treatment in factory-farmed meat production, I am all about the vat-grown meat. I've been waiting for this for a long time!

  • ||

    That frog steak does look pretty sketchy. But then, I've never seen a frog steak. It might be very lovely as far as frog steaks go.

  • ||

    I look forward to someday having an entire room wallpapered with meat.

  • ||

    One day you can have an entire room *made* of meat.

  • ||

    And I will alternately grill and eat my way out.

    You just know that there will be some hardcore freaky installation art if H.R. Giger ever gets ahold of this stuff.

  • ||

    Kwix,

    Likely it'll be the other way around. You'll be prohibited from vat-grown meat because of interstate commerce concerns - you'll be affecting the price of farm-grown meat.

    Nick, I'm assuming the frog-steak shown is raw; it sort of looks like raw chicken. Perhaps it looks more appetizing after cooking.

  • Phil||

    No need, mediageek -- Damien Hirst already uses the real thing! On the hoof, no less.

  • ||

    Phil, that kind of reminds me of Gunther von Hagen's Bodyworlds stuff.

  • ||

    Now if scientists (or "artists" or whoever) can just get cracking on vat-grown human organs. I'm drinking a hole in my liver over here, and I want to be able to grow a new one for myself in a few years' time (preferably in a jar on my windowsill, like rock candy).

  • ||

    Ditto to Phil re: vegetarians.

    But this will be fought tooth and nail. The increased efficiency would too radically alter the business landscape of factory farming. Powerful interest groups, there.

  • ||

    [offtopic]

    I was invited to see Bodyworlds three times, but I declined every time. (Eww! Bodies!)
    I know it's probably "educational", but it just seems creepy to me.

    [/offtopic]

  • ||

    My wife says that the placentas she stores in vacuum sealed bags for research, etc. look like roast beef.

    Thanks, Hakluyt. The frog tissue didn't bother me, but your statement has put me off supper.

  • Uncle Sam||

    Could I grow steaks from a sample of my own muscle tissue?
    Friends could get together for sampler parties to see who tastes best.

  • ||

    I'm sure the frog steak in the photo is raw. Cooked frog meat looks and tastes a bit like white chicken meat.

    I think a 12-ounce frog steak would be interesting. It would probably look a lot like a boneless chicken breast.

  • ||

    "Now if scientists (or "artists" or whoever) can just get cracking on vat-grown human organs."

    As the organ will have both human dna and metabolic processes that can be maintained through artificial means, it would obviously be entitled to all of the rights of any other person. The Congress would immediately pass a bill requiring that a federal judge review any and all harvests, with directions that he "err on the side of Life."

  • ed||

    PETA will have to change their name to PETVGM.

  • ||

    The Congress would immediately pass a bill requiring that a federal judge review any and all harvests, with directions that he "err on the side of Life."

    ...Resulting in a number of taxpayer-funded meat orphanages for neglected and mistreated vat meat. Then, the government-payroll employees of the orphanage will secretly abuse the meat by injecting it with various infectious disease vaccines for research and development. Action News and 20/20 will do an expose that will catapult their ratings to new heights.

  • ||

    Think of the vat meat! Please, somebody think of the vat meat!

  • ||

    Let's throw this ugly steak on the fire:
    How about human cells grown for consumption? Would that be canibalism? And what kind of Freudian issues would you invoke by vat growing your own cells for consumption?

  • ||

    Eryk-

    Uncle Sam touched on the topic, as did the other, old thread on this subject.

    Personally, I think it gives new meaing to the phrase "Eat Me!"

  • ||

    How about human cells grown for consumption?

    It's made of PEOPLE!

  • ||

    ...Resulting in a number of taxpayer-funded meat orphanages for neglected and mistreated vat meat. Then, the government-payroll employees of the orphanage will secretly abuse the meat by injecting it with various infectious disease vaccines for research and development. Action News and 20/20 will do an expose that will catapult their ratings to new heights.

    At the same time, state legislatures will pass laws preventing same-sex couples from adopting vat meat to prevent would be homosexual parents from "corrupting the meat's moral values."

  • ||

    Does anyone else think that "Corrupting the Meat" would make a good name for a band?

  • ||

    I think the idea was expanded before Oryx and Crake by Frederick Pohl in The Space Merchants, where Laura is a living, perhaps sapient, steak.

  • ||

    mediageek,

    This topic has given me countless ideas for band names:

    Evergrowing Tumor
    Meat Orphanage
    Vat Meat Manifesto
    Ugly Steak on Fire
    The Secret Meat Abusers
    Raw Frog Flesh Eaters from Mars
    Roast Beef Fetus
    Fake Plastic Turkey Sausages
    Synthetic Salami and the "Meat" Balls

    Ok, maybe not "countless" (that's 9). I'm sure there's more where that came from, but I will spare you and close this Pandora's box.

  • ||

    I find the whole topic distasteful.

  • ||

    Personally, I'm for anything that will get my wife to eat more tube steak.

    *rimshot*

    Thank you. Thank you. I'll be here all week.

  • ||

    "It's Not Easy Being Soylent Green" is made of frogs! FRRROOOOOOOGGGSSSS!

  • ||

    mediageek, I was thinking that "The Test-Tube Baby Back Ribs" would be a good one.

  • ||

    I'm confused. I thought the McRib was the first vat-grown meat product.

  • ||

    Joke's on you, dude - there's no meat in there.

  • ||

    What! That's bullshit! Does Spurlock know about this?

  • ||

    Does anyone else think that "Corrupting the Meat" would make a good name for a band?

    Well, I used to play with a band called "Betrayed Meat", is that close enough?

  • ||

    ralphus: I hope not - I don't need to see him, or anyone, eat McRibs for thirty days.

  • ||

    I was going to post that a simple "Frogsteak" would be a decent name for a band. But then I remembered the similar "Frogstomp" was already used by Silverchair for a CD title.

  • ||

    Solitudinarian,

    With the sort of research my wife is involved in, I'm often surprised that she can eat after getting of work. :)

  • ||

    With the sort of research my wife is involved in, I'm often surprised that she can eat after getting of work. :)

    Hey, she puts up with you. I'd say she must just have a real strong stomach. :)

  • ||

    Y'all are missing the possibilty of Celebrity Meats. Eat me? Hell, eat Angelina Jolie.

  • ||

    How are they going to get that delicious corn-fed flavor into technobeef?

  • ||

    Douglas Fletcher brings up a good point. How much of meat's flavor and texture comes from environmental rather than genetic factors? Can they duplicate that in a vat?

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