supermeat screenshot supermeat screenshot SuperMeat is working to make laboratory meat that looks like the real thing. (Photo: SuperMeat)

No animals were harmed to make this meat

A company is growing a new kind of cultured meat that's cheaper, healthier, tastier and better for the planet.

A company is figuring out how to grow cultured meat from animal cells. And it's going to taste like chicken. In fact, it will actually be chicken.

SuperMeat, a startup based in Israel, is learning how to grow chicken breasts inside a laboratory, without using actual animals. Instead, the scientists clone chicken cells and grow the meat in a container made to resemble the inside of a chicken's body. This is no soy-based chicken imitation; we're talking about real chicken meat.

"It’s all about mimicking the natural body of the animal," Supermeat's Ronen Bar told From the Grapevine. "It’s like planting a seed in the right soil. You just need to water it."

Yaakov NahmaisProfessor Yaakov Nahmais, the company’s head of research, has published more than 50 papers in prestigious journals. (Photo: Courtesy of SuperMeat)

The meat, which is currently in development, comes with a tasty bunch of world-saving angles. Cultured meat could help save the planet, since it uses much less land and water than farmed meat. According to SuperMeat, animal agriculture covers 45% on the earth’s land, and 55% of water that the U.S consumes is used for animal agriculture.

Raising animals for meat contributes more to climate change than all the world's transportation combined, according to environmental experts. Making cultured meat would be helpful in the fight against global warming, all without anybody needing to eat less meat or go vegetarian.

"We think the world should look at this whole thing like putting a man on the moon," said Bar.

It also could potentially be much cheaper than regular meat, as that requires growing an animal from birth. SuperMeat would grow quickly and without a lifetime supply of animal feed, making meat less expensive. Plus, food transportation costs would virtually disappear. Not a bad way to feed the hungry.

Animal agriculture is also a big cause of deforestation, animal extinction and public health hazards like salmonella, swine flu and bird flu, all of which come from farmed meat. Cultured meat would change all that.

"It's much more intelligent, healthy and clean," said Bar.

Unlike most factory-farmed meat, SuperMeat wouldn't have hormones, antibiotics, shoddy feed or animal waste in it. It would also be fresher than meat today, which often travels thousands of miles before arriving in grocery stores. Bar thinks that, in the future, we'll look at farmed meat like a strange old technology.

"They used to kill whales to light up the streets," Bar told From the Grapevine. "They don’t do that anymore."

SuperMeat is the only company focusing on laboratory-grown chicken at the moment (other companies are working on ground beef). According to Bar, people eat 60 billion chickens every year.

The SuperMeat team is trying to invent small meat-growing machines for supermarkets, restaurants and even homes. They expect the prototypes to be ready in about a year and a half. The team has on board Professor Yaakov Nahmias, the award-winning biomedical engineer from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

"He was able to grow liver cells outside the human body and proliferate them," said Bar. "He already showed that it’s possible."

Meat lovers need not be afraid. In fact, they should be excited. Cultured meat might even taste better than regular meat, since scientists can control attributes like the ratios of muscle and fat in each chicken breast. SuperMeat could even create things like half chicken, half rabbit drumbones.

"We don’t want to make something which is exactly like meat," Bar told us. "We want to make something better."


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Related Topics: Animals, Environment, Food News, Healthy eating, Science

No animals were harmed to make this meat
New company SuperMeat is growing a new kind of cultured meat that's cheaper, healthier, tastier and better for the planet.