In-Vitro Meat in 3-10 years?
In-Vitro Meat — aka tank steak, sci fi sausage, petri pork, beaker bacon, Frankenburger, vat-grown veal, laboratory lamb, synthetic shmeat, trans-ham, factory filet, test tube tuna, cultured chicken, or any other moniker that can seduce the shopper’s stomach — will appear in 3-10 years as a cheaper, healthier, “greener” protein that’s easily manufactured in a metropolis. Its entree will be enormous; not just food-huge like curry rippling through London in the 1970’s or colonized tomatoes teaming up with pasta in early 1800’s Italy. No. Bigger. In-Vitro Meat will be socially transformative, like automobiles, cinema, vaccines.
But I also would note that an article at Slate last year put In-Vitro Meat perhaps decades away:
Despite considerable hubbub over the technology in recent months, we’re still years—or, more likely, decades—away from affordable lab-grown meat. The current experiments are taking place in bioreactors that measure only a few hundred milliliters in volume, and the longest complete muscle tissues are just 2 centimeters long. Researchers are nowhere close to scaling up their production to market-ready levels, to say nothing of market-ready prices. A Dutch team’s lab-grown pork, for example, would cost around $45,000 per pound—assuming they could make an entire pound of the stuff. Bioreactors may be energy-efficient when compared with cattle, but they’re also expensive to design, build, and maintain. They also require highly skilled personnel to manage, in order to preserve aseptic conditions.
So which is it? Has the past year seen breakthroughs in the science and economics of In-Vitro Meat that will bring it along sooner rather than later? And will In-Vitro Meat make everybody, if not exactly vegetarians, at least facetarians (what I would call people who don’t eat anything that has a face)?