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In Vitro Meat: Fad or the future?

16 January 2013

In Vitro Meat, where muscle tissue is grown from cells in laboratories, to eat as food, is attracting global attention. The world’s first laboratory-grown hamburger has been produced by Professor Mark Post and his team in Maastricht, representing something radically new in our world.

Dr Neil Stephens, Research Associate at Cesagen (Cardiff School of Social Sciences), has been researching the social and ethical issues of this technology and what this innovation in stem cell science might mean for us in 2013.

Will we be eating burgers made in test-tubes in the near future? That is probably unlikely considering Professor Post’s burger costs around £200,000 to produce.

However, the benefits this new technology can deliver - according to the scientists - include slaughter-free meat that is healthier and free from animal to human disease. The meat could also be grown during space travel and could have a much smaller environmental impact than today’s whole-animal reared meat. But it is not yet clear if any of these can be delivered in a marketable form.

Since 2008, Dr Stephens has been investigating these ‘social promises’ by interviewing most of the scientists across the world who are involved in this project. He looks to understand how this community of scientists came together and what strategies they use to justify the promises they make.

(Excerpt taken from an article published in ESRC Britain in 2013, page.88)

Watch the video below of Dr Stephens discussing the emergence of this radically new way of making meat and the key questions about the potential sociological impact of this new technology.