Tag Archives: greenhouse gas emissions

Scientists Turn Stem Cells Into Pork

Call it pork in a petri dish — a technique to turn pig stem cells into strips of meat that scientists say could one day offer a green alternative to raising livestock, help alleviate world hunger, and save some pigs their bacon.

Dutch scientists have been growing pork in the laboratory since 2006, and while they admit they haven’t gotten the texture quite right or even tasted the engineered meat, they say the technology promises to have widespread implications for our food supply.

“If we took the stem cells from one pig and multiplied it by a factor of a million, we would need one million fewer pigs to get the same amount of meat,” said Mark Post, a biologist at Maastricht University involved in the In-vitro Meat Consortium, a network of publicly funded Dutch research institutions that is carrying out the experiments.

Post describes the texture of the meat as sort of like scallop, firm but a little squishy and moist. That’s because the lab meat has less protein content than conventional meat.

Several other groups in the U.S., Scandinavia and Japan are also researching ways to make meat in the laboratory, but the Dutch project is the most advanced, said Jason Matheny, who has studied alternatives to conventional meat at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and is not involved in the Dutch research.

In the U.S., similar research was funded by NASA, which hoped astronauts would be able to grow their own meat in space. But after growing disappointingly thin sheets of tissue, NASA gave up and decided it would be better for its astronauts to simply eat vegetarian.

To make pork in the lab, Post and colleagues isolate stem cells from pigs’ muscle cells. They then put those cells into a nutrient-based soup that helps the cells replicate to the desired number.

So far the scientists have only succeeded in creating strips of meat about 1 centimeter (a half inch) long; to make a small pork chop, Post estimates it would take about 30 days of cell replication in the lab.

There are tantalizing health possibilities in the technology.

Fish stem cells could be used to produce healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which could be mixed with the lab-produced pork instead of the usual artery-clogging fats found in livestock meat.

“You could possibly design a hamburger that prevents heart attacks instead of causing them,” Matheny said.

Post said the strips they’ve made so far could be used as processed meat in sausages or hamburgers. Their main problem is reproducing the protein content in regular meat: In livestock meat, protein makes up about 99 percent of the product; the lab meat is only about 80 percent protein. The rest is mostly water and nucleic acids.

None of the researchers have actually eaten the lab-made meat yet, but Post said the lower protein content means it probably wouldn’t taste anything like pork.

The Dutch researchers started working with pork stem cells because they had the most experience with pigs, but said the technology should be transferable to other meats, like chicken, beef and lamb.

Some experts warn lab-made meats might have potential dangers for human health.

“With any new technology, there could be subtle impacts that need to be monitored,” said Emma Hockridge, policy manager at Soil Association, Britain’s leading organic organization.

As with genetically modified foods, Hockridge said it might take some time to prove the new technology doesn’t harm humans. She also said organic farming relies on crop and livestock rotation, and that taking animals out of the equation could damage the ecosystem.

Some experts doubted lab-produced meat could ever match the taste of real meat.

“What meat tastes like depends not just on the genetics, but what you feed the animals at particular times,” said Peter Ellis, a biochemistry expert at King’s College London. “Part of our enjoyment of eating meat depends on the very complicated muscle and fat structure…whether that can be replicated is still a question.”

If it proves possible, eco-freaks say growing meat in laboratories instead of raising animals on farmland would do wonders for the environment.

Hanna Tuomisto, who studies the environmental impact of food production at Oxford University said that switching to lab-produced meat could theoretically lower greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95 percent. Both land and water use would also drop by about 95 percent, she said.

“In theory, if all the meat was replaced by cultured meat, it would be huge for the environment,” she said. “One animal could produce many thousands of kilograms of meat.” In addition, lab meat can be nurtured with relatively few nutrients like amino acids, fats and natural sugars, whereas livestock must be fed huge amounts of traditional crops.

Tuomisto said the technology could potentially increase the world’s meat supply and help fight global hunger, but that would depend on how many factories there are producing the lab-made meat.

Post and colleagues haven’t worked out how much the meat would cost to produce commercially, but because there would be much less land, water and energy required, he guessed that once production reached an industrial level, the cost would be equivalent to or lower than that of conventionally produced meat.

One of the biggest obstacles will be scaling up laboratory meat production to satisfy skyrocketing global demand. By 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization predicts meat consumption will double from current levels as growing middle classes in developing nations eat more meat.

To produce meat at an industrial scale, we will need very large bioreactors, like those used to make vaccines” said Matheny. He thought lab-produced meat might be on the market within the next few years, while Post said it could take about a decade.

For the moment, the only types of meat they are proposing to make this way are processed meats like minced meat, hamburgers or hot dogs.

As long as it’s cheap enough and has been proven to be scientifically valid, I can’t see any reason people wouldn’t eat it,” said Stig Omholt, a genetics expert at the University of Life Sciences in Norway. “If you look at the sausages and other things people are willing to eat these days, this should not be a big problem.

Obama Motors!

This is a great post from Alan Caruba at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com
What legislators at the federal and state level don’t seem to understand is a fundamental law of thermodynamics. You cannot get more mileage out of a gallon of gasoline than it possesses. Every form of energy, oil, coal, natural gas, has a specific amount of energy it can produce when used.

When you add moonshine like ethanol to a gallon of gasoline, you actually reduce the amount of mileage you get for your dollar.

Meanwhile, the producers of the ethanol are lining their pockets with federal subsidies. Without the subsidies—taxpayer dollars—they would not be able to make a profit and since the ethanol fantasy has managed to drive up the cost of corn—normally a food product—some ethanol producers have already gone out of business because they couldn’t afford it!

California, home to more truly bad ideas about the environment than any other State, has enacted a “California Car Standard” to cut tailpipe emissions of “greenhouse gases.”

There is NO global warming and carbon dioxide has NO impact on the Earth’s climate except to show up in slightly higher amounts hundreds of years after a warming cycle has occurred. What Governor Schwarzenegger hasn’t figured out is that the Earth is well into a cooling cycle since 1998.

In California, all vehicles, cars and trucks, sold in the State will have to average 34.5 miles per gallon by 2015. Recent new standards for trucks, most of which would have to be retrofitted, means that fewer and fewer goods will be delivered in and to California because the cost of retrofitting is so high most truckers and fleet owners will simply decide to avoid doing business there.

Meanwhile, with the U.S. government imposing more and more emission demands on the auto manufacturers, they will ultimately have to start making cars out of paper mache in order to lighten the vehicle enough to achieve utterly meaingless mileage standards.

On top of that, the U.S. government is requiring automakers to make cars that very few people can afford or even want. Pretty soon we’ll have a new auto company, Obama Motors!

Isn’t it communism when the central government gets to decide what must be manufactured?

The effect of putting carbon dioxide emission limits in place on American cars ignores the fact that CO2 is being produced daily in China, India, Russia, Europe, and everywhere else in the world. Let’s not forget, too, that every human being on Earth emits about two pounds of the stuff every day.

The California standard has the effect of banning, not just SUVs, but midsize cars like the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. Just how dumb is this?

It is interesting to note that Ford Motor Company has refused to line up for a government bailout. Back in the 1930s when the FDR administration passed a law requiring manufacturers to collude to set higher prices, Henry Ford refused to participate. He believed that competition was the best economic policy. People actually went to jail back then for selling a product or service for less than the price set.

Your President, elected by just barely 6% over the Republican candidate and accompanied by a huge Democrat majority in Congress, is pushing this nation into a deeper recession which in time, if nothing is done to reverse the process, will develop into a full blown depression.

You might want to keep this in mind in 2010 when it comes time to vote for members of Congress. Americans put the Republicans in control in 1994 and we can do it again. At this point, I would vote for a chimpanzee if it was a Republican!

The next politician who, like Al Gore, tells you that the Earth is facing a global warming calamity because of greenhouse gas emissions, should be voted out of office and into the nearest soup kitchen line.