Scientists Create ‘Grow-Your-Own’ Human Steak You Can Actually Eat
Scientists in the US have created a human steak which can be grown using your own cells and blood.
Sound appetising? No, I didn’t think so either.
The bizarre creation is known as the Ouroboros Steak, named after the ancient Egyptian snake that eats itself, though creators have insisted that eating meat grown from human cells isn’t cannibalism.
While it is a real piece of meat, the steak is currently just a prototype, with little chunks currently on display at the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition at the Design Museum in London.
The steak was grown using cells harvested from the inside of the cheek, which were fed serum derived from expired blood donations. Scientists came up with the idea in the hopes of pointing out the flaws of the lab-grown meat industry, which claims to offer a cruelty-free alternative to factory farming.
Growing meat in a lab relies on the use of fetal bovine serum (FBS) as a protein-rich growth supplement for animal cell cultures. It costs around £300 to £700 per litre and is derived from the blood of calf fetuses, taken after pregnant cows are slaughtered in the meat or dairy industry.
Therefore, though the meat created in the labs doesn’t come from the animal itself, the resulting creation is a byproduct of polluting agricultural practices.
According to Dezeen, scientist Andrew Pelling, who helped develop the Ouroboros Steak, explained:
Fetal bovine serum costs significant amounts of money and the lives of animals. Although some lab-grown meat companies are claiming to have solved this problem, to our knowledge no independent, peer-reviewed, scientific studies have validated these claims.
As the lab-grown meat industry is developing rapidly, it is important to develop designs that expose some of its underlying constraints in order to see beyond the hype.
To allow people to try the process of growing a steak at home, the scientists envision people collecting cells from the inside of their own cheek using a cotton swab and depositing them onto pre-grown scaffolds made from mushroom mycelium.
The cells would then be stored in a warm environment and fed with serum until fully grown, highlighting the possibility of lab-grown meat without causing harm to animals.
Industrial designer Grace Knight, who also worked on the project, noted that expired blood donations are ‘cheaper and more sustainable’ than FBS. She acknowledged that people may consider eating the steaks as cannibalism, but stressed: ‘technically this is not’.
Our design is scientifically and economically feasible but also ironic in many ways.
We are not promoting ‘eating ourselves’ as a realistic solution that will fix humans’ protein needs. We rather ask a question: what would be the sacrifices we need to make to be able to keep consuming meat at the pace that we are? In the future, who will be able to afford animal meat and who may have no other option than culturing meat from themselves?
No lab-grown meat has so far been approved for sale in any part of the world.
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