Jun 272011

Coming soon, the test-tube burger

Where we learn that Dutch scientists believe that a hamburger made from cloned cow stem cells, cultured to grow batches of muscle fibers, is about a year away.

Researchers at Utrecht University have calculated that an initial ten stem cells could produce 50,000 tons of meat in two months.

I’d like to see the math and engineering on that.

Couple the cloneburger with the poopsteak, and the future of disturbing food for all is just about complete. The topper will be when  the technology becomes commonplace enough to have a Clone-O-Mat on the kitchen counter next to the Mr. Coffee and the Salad Shooter… and hipsters replace cow stem cells with their *own* cells, and eat hipsterburgers.

You *know* it’ll happen.

 Posted by at 7:53 am
  • Michael Holt

    As we all know, the South Sea cannibals called human meat “long pig,” so if hipsters start chowing down on their own cells, pork barbecue will suddenly become popular. What worries me is what happens when the fast food chains get the technology. And if it really works, will that cut down dramatically on the need for refrigerated transport? This could have far-reaching implications for the trucking industry!

    When my son was born, we were offered the placenta for breakfast (which the hospital would prepare right there, while we waited).

  • Trimegistus

    I think they’re using “could” in the sense of “would not violate any physical laws” rather than “would be actually feasible.”

    What kind of feedstock does this synthetic meat require? Unless it’s cheaper than corn and grass, this has no future on Earth.

    • admin

      > I think they’re using “could” in the sense of “would not violate any physical laws” rather than “would be actually feasible.”

      Synthetic meat has already been produced… pork and goldfish. The goldfish was actually served at some “huzzah, we’ve made synthomeat, give us money” shindig. So far, it’s my understanding that the overwhelming consensus is that synthomeat takes like *bleh.* It’s also my understanding that it is ridiculously expensive.

      It might be *great* for space missions. And in time, as the price comes down, it might become economically viable. But I suspect that “industrial scale” would be required for that to happen.

  • admin

    Anybody remember the “SyFy” Channel’s “Marcels Quantum Kitchen?” I didn’t watch that, for two primary reasons:
    1: Cooking shows bore me to sobs. 3 minutes on high, baby.
    2: From what I saw in previews and commercials, it was “cooking” by way of liquid nitrogen and the like. Which has two problems:
    A: Cooking shows are supposed to be educational… food that You, Too, Can Make! Who has liquid nitrogen?
    B: Odd though liquid nitrogen may be… it ain’t science fictiony. Might as well have tenderized beef with a thousand ton sheet metal press: I don’t have one of those, either.

    On the other hand… a “SyFy cooking show” where they actually do real sciencey-stuff, like growing meat in a test tube or synthesizing steaks out of poop… *that* might be worth watching.

    Next Week on “Scott’s Sci-Fi Kitchen:” Watch as we genetically tinker with ostrich DNA… give it a long tail, increase the size of the head, shorten and strengthen the neck, turn the gene for teeth back on, turn the wing stubs into long claw-tipped arms, and turn the inner toe claw into an eight-inch sickle… our own home-grown velociraptors! Then we release the raptors into the wilds of Detroit, hire the guys from Bumfights to hunt them down and then roast them over oil barrel fires! Tune in next week!!!

  • Murgatroyd

    I’ll pas on the poopburgers, thank you. But carniculture is something that I welcome, and I’d love to be able to eat a hamburger knowing that some cow somewhere didn’t have to die for me to enjoy the taste of beef. I sympathize with “ethical vegetarians” who don’t eat meat mecause they don’t like the idea of killing animals, but I love bacon and turkey and steaks and fish and burgers and ham and chicken and lamb chops too much to give them up.

    You wouldn’t barbecue Fingers or Raedthinn, would you?

    As we all know, the South Sea cannibals called human meat “long pig,” so if hipsters start chowing down on their own cells, pork barbecue will suddenly become popular.

    Obligatory SF referfence: Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Food of the Gods.”

    • admin

      > You wouldn’t barbecue Fingers or Raedthinn, would you?

      No, but then… cats and dogs ain’t cows and chickens. Different critters serve different purposes. Cats and dogs fall into that category of critter that humans value for their minds.

      One neato side effect of truly effective carniculture, where Real Meat comes out of a machine cheap and easy, would be the effective extinction of currently farmed species of cows, chickens and sheep. If humans don’t need them anymore for food… we’re not going to raise them anymore. There will be one last Great Slaughter, then they will slip into history, viewable at the occasional zoo.

      • Pat Flannery

        Considering how Raedthinn’s eyes glow in the photos of him, you try to cook him…and you’re going to get turned into a newt. 😀

      • Murgatroyd

        Pigs, on the other hand, seem to be quite intelligent as animals go. We may not value their minds, but I suspect that they do. But as I said, I’m not about to give up bacon.

        Homer:     Lisa honey, are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?

        Lisa:     No.

        Homer:     Ham?

        Lisa:     No.

        Homer:     Pork chops?

        Lisa:     Dad! Those all come from the same animal!

        Homer:     Yeah, right Lisa! A wonderful, magical animal!

  • Pat Flannery

    What SF story was it that had “Chicken Little” in it – a giant mass of chicken meat that was feed yeast extract so that it constantly grew, with the outside edges being trimmed off, providing most of the meat for the US?

    • Murgatroyd

      Pohl and Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants.