Scientists working on 'test-tube' beef

Indo Asian News Service

London, June 27 (IANS) The first 'test tube' hamburger is only a year away. Beef mince is now being grown from stem cells that would eliminate the necessity of slaughtering animals.

Dutch scientists say a time will come when there will not be enough livestock to feed the population. Consequently, lab-grown beef, chicken and lamb could become the norm.

They are currently developing a burger which will be grown from 10,000 stem cells extracted from cattle, which are then left in the lab to multiply more than a billion times to produce muscle tissue similar to beef, the Scientific American reports.

Mark Post, professor of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who is behind the project, said: 'I don't see any way you could rely on old-fashioned livestock in the coming decades.'

'We are trying to prove to the world we can make a product out of this, and we need a courageous person who is willing to be the first to taste it,' the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

Post said the first burger could be made within 12 months.

In 2009, scientists from the same university had grown strips of pork using the same method. They, however, admitted it was not particularly appetising.

Fish fillets have also been grown in a New York lab using cells from goldfish muscle tissue.

Even if the initial results do not taste quite the same as proper meat, scientists are convinced the public will soon get used to it, especially if they do not have a choice.

Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands have calculated that an initial 10 stem cells could produce 50,000 tonnes of meat in two months.