In a science-fiction-y twist to the phrase “makin’ bacon,” according to Reuters, Dutch researchers are exploring ways to grow pork in a laboratory.
The scientists aren’t planning on bringing a nice cool mud wallow and a batch of piglets into their lab to grow into hogs. No, instead they’re manipulating cells:
Under the process, researchers first isolate muscle stem cells, which have the ability to grow and multiply into muscle cells. Then they stimulate the cells to develop, give them nutrients and exercise them with electric current to build bulk.
After perfecting that process, scientists will then need to figure out how to layer tissues to add more bulk, since meat grown in petri dishes lacks the blood vessels needed to deliver nutrients through thick muscle fibers.
And then there is the question of fat, to add flavor.
Of course, you’re years away from being able to buy petri-dish pork. The article notes that so far the scientists have only been able to grow thin layers of cells.
But will people eat it? The researchers point out that we’re already eating pretty heavily processed food. Given that the scientists also explicitly cite environmental issues and wanting to avoid killing animals to produce meat, could lab bacon become the newest vegan “fake meat”?