New Harvest was founded in 2004 to support the development of cultured meat (AKA “in vitro meat”) and plant-based meat alternatives. We connect scientists in the field to one another and to funds. We support food technology research that remains in the public domain.

I was fortunate enough to attend the event last Monday in London where Mark Post, a researcher at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, showcased the first ever cultured beef burger. Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, was also revealed as the philanthropist behind the project.

Why meat alternatives? Meat production is a leading driver of climate change, a massive burden on environmental resources, and a breeding ground for epidemic disease.Meat alternatives hold a lot of promise in feeding a growing population more safely and efficiently.

Some links you may be interested in:

Proof: picture of me and here is a video of a TED X talk I did

Comments: 1169 • Responses: 83  • Date: 

midnitewarrior675 karma

I watched the broadcast of the tasting, and I was sorely disappointed in the demonstration they gave.

They had 1 burger to do this with, and they didn't season it, they didn't put it IN the bun, no condiments, NOTHING.

Then, they asked everybody how it tasted. The consensus seemed to be that it didn't really taste great. Who eats unseasoned meat hamburger meat? Who would even know what this is supposed to taste like? No salt or pepper? Of course they aren't going to be thrilled with it. If unseasoned meat hamburger meat tasted great, people wouldn't bother seasoning it. I think one of the tasters said something like he didn't really know what unseasoned meat was supposed to taste like.

The other problem I had with it, was that there was no unseasoned animal meat to use for comparison.

I thought it was a waste of a huge opportunity and it didn't really show the best side of this technology. Considering the high cost of this burger sample, I thought it was a poorly thought out demonstration.


ishadatar415 karma

I totally agree. A burger without ketchup!

It would have been interesting too if they had a McDonalds patty... untouched.. to look at side by side. Probably would have helped the cause.

I was honestly so impressed when they took the cloche off the patty. It was so nicely colored. Most burger patties look so much worse than that.

Plus having a comparison would have been more scientifically sound.

ishadatar189 karma

I also would have liked to see the burger eaten in it's entirety.

runnerdood116 karma

Why did Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) decide to invest in this project?

ishadatar188 karma

He likes projects on the cutting edge and shares concerns about sustainability. The video here: covers Sergey's interest in the project, in his own words.

Peirol113 karma

Could you make different flavors of meat?

ishadatar147 karma

In theory, yes, any muscle cell type could be cultured.

empw91 karma

Could you expand on that? Do you mean we could make pork vs chicken vs beef?

Or do you mean we could make prime rib vs filet vs skirt?

ishadatar184 karma

Pork vs. chicken vs. beef. The difference in meat cuts is due to how the muscle is used in the animal, and if the muscle is made of fast-twitch or slow-twitch muscle fibers. (Roughly meaning light or dark meat).

The different cuts would be pretty hard to emulate just cause there is so much more at play with respect to how that muscle forms in an animal. I wouldn't count on being able to differentiate different cuts any time soon.

SeaPea-A67 karma

Eventually, once technology progresses to where any meat and any cut can be made, could custom not-in-nature meats be invented?

For example, we do it with flavor: There's nothing in nature (as far as I know) that really resembles Pepsi. So, if we really wanted to invent something grown to look like a steak, has the texture of scallops, and has some of the gamey flavor found in duck... could we conceivably make it in the far future?

ishadatar34 karma

I'm excited for what we can do in the far future. Hopefully this is one of them.

WonderbaumofWisdom49 karma


ishadatar44 karma

Any nail biters here?

jexopolis104 karma

It seems some people are really open-minded and say "cool" where others say "that seems so gross." How do you combat the folks who are close minded or think cultured meat is "evil"—like a next step from GMOs and Monsanto, etc ...

ishadatar158 karma

Most of the negativity is related to an appeal to nature

Which is a matter of opinion.

I say the best way to move this technology forward is with education and openness. And considering all research has been public domain to date, there's a lot of transparency already that just didn't happen with Big Food tech developments (you can read papers at

Folderpirate32 karma

What do you say to those who, after research and understanding, still don't want it? Do you forsee a future where this is the only type of meat available?

ishadatar96 karma

That's fine if they don't want it. But the standard price of meat can only increase with time. So they should keep that in mind.

And if they're veg*n then no problem!

I think meat just needs to be diversified. For instance, beef is supposed to be raised on pasture that is totally unfit for farming. Hilly, rocky, steep, whatever. The problem is most beef is not produced this way. Beef is usually raised on food humans could eat (soy, corn) rather than food humans can't eat (grass).

I personally have to problem with traditional farming. It's just that that's not the norm.

There should be many types of meats, and various price levels.

avgwhtguy128 karma

And do you see the price of real meat increasing because of the alternative? Do you see real meat being priced out of supermarkets? (As an economist, I do)

ishadatar61 karma

Totally. The price of meat can only increase.

I honestly don't understand how it is even economically stable right now. I mean considering how a single recall or farm animal disease can wipe out a ton of animals/product. Seems like a risky business to be in.

alabamapuppyfuck91 karma

So it's not vegan in the sense that it still uses real animal muscle tissue. But how animal friendly is it otherwise? Is there any animal byproduct in there? How humane is it?

ishadatar156 karma

It's hard to apply a vegan label depending on why people are veg*n.

The burger tasted on Monday was created with animal prducts and even cooked with butter and an egg-based binder. This is not the goal.

The goal is to be plant based. Cells will be taken from animals through a simple biopsy (think... getting a mole removed.. very minuscule). It is much more humane than current meat production standards. And far fewer animals would be needed.

sv21js83 karma

Once the cells are taken that are going to be cultured to create the meat can you continue to use them indefinitely, or do you need to take new animal cells periodically?

ishadatar135 karma

Depends on what cells you use. Stem cells multiply indefinitely. So do cancer cells... which we'd want to avoid.

Scientists have been using myosatellite cells, stem cells that are on their way to differentiating into muscle tissue. They can multiply many times but not infinitely. So you would need to re-harvest cells.

Harvesting cells is through a simple biopsy. No animal killed, little suffering.

centaurskull170 karma

I also have been wondering this.

ishadatar3 karma

Saleability...(prob not a word but you get it)

That_Film_Guy74 karma

Would you be interested in having me make a documentary on this subject to potentially fast-track the "open-mindedness"?

ishadatar61 karma


KosherHam29 karma

Just like that huh? No résumé , or interview?

carlitabear4 karma

His username should suffice.

ishadatar23 karma

He didn't ask for anything in return.

rotor_head73 karma

Can't believe nobody asked this yet! What did it taste like?

ishadatar105 karma

Unfortunately I didn't get a taste! Which is too bad cause I'm asked that question all the time. They wanted to keep the tasters unbiased, which is good scientific practice ;)

Marvelman178828 karma

Would you have any links or press reports from the tasters that you could share?

ishadatar52 karma

You can watch the tasters tasting the burger here:

Marvelman178871 karma

Thanks! TL;DW, the texture and beef flavor are consistent with conventional beef, but it's missing the fatty flavor and juiciness that the fat provides. But, as Isha commented on above incorporating fat is doable and soon to come.

postposter14 karma

I wouldn't be surprised if other sources of fat (plant or dairy) couldn't also be used as a quite serviceable substitute in the mean time.

ishadatar23 karma


xayzer26 karma

It doesn't help that the meat was initially presented in what appeared to be a petri dish.

ishadatar93 karma

Conveniently in the shape of a burger patty!

DaSquige71 karma

Hello, I read an article in The Week yesterday about your impressive achievement. However it cited a few critics who participated in your taste test, and said that your product did not cook well because of its lack of fat. They (harshly) described it as grey and a little gross, if my memory serves. They also cited its lack of iron, do you have any comments on these criticisms, or plans to address them before your product hits the markets?

Thank you!

ishadatar152 karma

I'd like to point out first the this product is proof of concept. It's to show that it is physically possible to culture a hamburger. It's not practical at all right now. We need more funds to get there. There is nothing close to reaching the market just yet.

Fat is something that can also be cultured and added, as is blood (where the iron could come from). This will certainly be looked at in the time to come.

The meat wasn't really grey, because colour was enhanced with beet and saffron. But isn't regular hamburger meat grey after cooked?

DaSquige49 karma

I suppose blood-less meat would be grey.

Thank you for your time in responding, and for your scientific contributions. I hope that one day I will be able to enjoy one of your lab burgers.

Is there any way that we as individuals can contribute funds / make a donation to your research?

ishadatar72 karma

Yes, totally!!

Funding has so far been philanthropic, from individuals like yourself. Please donate here:

themeatbridge40 karma

FWIW, red meat is red because of myoglobin, not blood.

ishadatar57 karma

Yes, and myoglobin can be produced with recombinant bacteria/plants so wouldn't be hard to produce.

Decker10842 karma

What's the shelf life of this meat?

ishadatar6 karma

I have no idea. Never been packaged and put on a shelf!

jokes_on_you41 karma

As I understand, you use bovine serum (or another similar animal product) in the media for the cultured meat. Have y'all been making steps towards using media that is 100% non-animal sources? Or is that further down the road? This would be crucial for vegetarians.

ishadatar67 karma

It is a goal to make the serum animal-free. Research is being done on culturing mammalian cells in algae-based and mushroom-based media. But SO MUCH MORE research needs to be done in this area.

It's something that hasn't been pushed for in the medical community, which is why the research is lagging big time.

Salacious-36 karma

Which endangered species would you really want to eat?

meat grown in a lab, of course!

ishadatar56 karma

Hard to say! How would I know if they are tasty or not?

Salacious-42 karma

Don't cop out on me! White rhino? Bald eagle? There's got to be one animal that you've seen while watching the Discovery Channel or something and thought "that would go well with a nice side of mashed potatoes."

jointheredditarmy51 karma

Why do I think this is ultimately what propels this technology into the mainstream? Rich kids wanting to eat mammoth steak...

ishadatar44 karma

I didn't know extinct species were on the table!

Transvestosaurus25 karma

Sod that, which human do you want to legally cannibalize?

VoodooAction75 karma

Kevin Bacon.

ishadatar51 karma


louis_my_lord33 karma

How long until this hits shelves in supermarkets?

ishadatar70 karma

This is dependent on so many things but most of all, funding. If there was a blank cheque written (and major industry behind it) to get this done ASAP, I'd say maybe 5 years! But there isn't (so far) so the pace is quite slow.

barneygale33 karma

Does in vitro meat have any selling points beyond being environmentally friendly? Is it easier to cook, more versatile in recipes, etc?

To be clear I fully support it for its green credentials. I'm just curious how limited its appeal might be to folks who don't care about that.

ishadatar64 karma

At this point (before there is a commercially viable product) it's hard to determine what other selling points could exist.

Healthier is one. You can control fat content.

Maybe more widespread awareness of factory farming as it takes place now can reduce appeal of meat as it is now, thereby increasing cultured meat's appeal.

cautiousman28 karma

Hey Isha, thanks a lot for doing this. I'm a huge supporter of cultured meat but I don't really know how to help. What can the average person do to help make cultured meat easily accessible in the not too distant future?

ishadatar43 karma

In short (here comes the plug): donate to New Harvest!

The creation of cultured meat has been largely philanthropic which is AMAZING because all the science is out there in the open (unlike other food technologies... like GMOs... which scientists can't even investigate cause they're so heavily protected)

Keep food technology public... donate to the cause.

also amazing: We're talking about this technology 20 years (or so) before it happens rather than 10 years after we found out we've been eating it for a decade (1st GMO approved 1994.. first "right to know" campaign ~2003)

mtn_mojo28 karma

Have you considered targeting the fitness community as a source of enthusiasm/help? People spend thousands of dollars on protein supplements, which are generally just dried whey/casein/soy powder. The profit margins must be staggering on stuff like that.

The idea of easily available, ready-to-eat pure protein is very exciting, and I'm positive that people who are trying to add more to their diet in the form of powders would be even more excited about another source of pure "clean" animal protein!

ishadatar43 karma

I have TOTALLY thought about this and I am so happy you brought this up! The fitness community probably have the most sci-fi diets of anyone, and are also capable of changing public perceptions of food. Think about protein powder. Used to be a thing for hardcore bodybuilders. Now it seems every person, male/female has a giant tub of powder somewhere within arms reach. (Exaggeration but you know).

This community is also subject to all kinds of trends: raw egg... tuna... turkey breast... whey.. now vegan products. So might be hard to get them on board so early. What do you think?

mtn_mojo21 karma

Marketing 100% raw animal protein, harvested sustainably and presented in basically any fashion you care to form the stuff? Just make sure everyone is aware that they are getting all the hottest amino acids like HMB and l-carnatine, and it will fly off the shelves.

If anything, this opens up far more options as to how to sell the stuff. You do not have to present it even as palatable, much less attempt to replicate any specific cut of meat. Put it in a blueberry shake, form it into a bar or wafer, the sky's the limit!

Cultured meat sounds like a godsend: safe, sustainable, pure protein. I wish I knew of a way to get involved with the project!

Here is a prime example, by the way, of the kind of thinking that goes into protein supplementation:

ishadatar9 karma

Send me an email [email protected] if you're interested in getting involved :)

Sacrifice_Pawn28 karma

How does the energy/resource demand of cultured meat compare to industrial farming techniques?

ishadatar44 karma

Cultured meat is expected to require 45% less energy input. The study concluding this can be found here:

cosmonautsix9 karma

How does it compare to sustainable small farming techniques?

ishadatar10 karma

Most of the inputs of meat production come in the production process itself i.e.. raising a cow for 2 years before it's slaughtered.

Sustainable farming is hard to judge because it should be cows raised on land that can't be used for growing crops, using manure for fertilizer etc. There's nothing objectionable about this and cultured meat isn't really seeking to disturb this type of farming.

svnftgmp7 karma

Yeah, this is the question I'm curious about. Grassfed beef is carbon negative, builds soil, and gives the animal a good life.

ishadatar4 karma

It's all good. But most meat isn't produced this way. Let's worry about changing the factory farming situation. I think sustainable farming is amazing and should be perpetuated.

veertamizhan27 karma

how much time will it take for the meat to be available at the local supermarket? and will it be cheap?

ishadatar69 karma

It will not start out cheap, just because of how expensive it will be. Think about how the computer trickled down into society. Highly exclusive and expensive and impractical... down to a huge proportion of the population having one in your pocket.

Not sure when everyone will have a burger in their pocket. Haha.

This first burger was $300K.. the next probably in the $10K range.. slowly moving down. The first tastings will be exclusive and expensive, slowly becoming more mainstream. Just cause technology moves that way.

midnitewarrior24 karma

One of the things that I noticed in the broadcast of the tasting was the emphasis on the production of 100% cultured meat products. I think this is a mistake.

Consumer acceptance of a blended product would probably be much higher than a 100% cultured product for an initial product roll out. The great thing about a blended product is that it overcomes one of the shortcomings of this technology - the inability to grow fat (I know they are working on it). Animal fat is cheap and can be blended with cultured product to get a product on-par with traditional hamburger meat.

The other advantage they would have is preservation of texture. Creating a blended product (regular hamburger / cultured protien / animal fat) can benefit from the familiar texture of regular hamburger meat.

I think a 100% complete cultured product is a great long-term goal, especially for acceptance from vegetarians, but it will be years before this pure product can get to market. Creating a blend that supermarkets can use to supplement their existing burger grind can get this product into the shopping carts of consumers much more quickly.

If they can get the price to have an advantage over traditional beef, consumers will be curious to try the product.


ishadatar29 karma

Totally agree.

In fact, I am surprised we don't blend meat with plant-based alternatives more often. They do that a lot in European countries.

Any method that reduces the total amount of factory-farmed meat consumed is in my books a good idea.

Intheweeds4now22 karma

After all the experimentation, do you believe it's a viable source for meat in the future ?

ishadatar74 karma

I believe so. We're literally running out of planet to produce meat the way we do today. 70% of agricultural land is devoted to livestock production (D'Silva and Webster, eds. The Meat Crisis. 2010) and with meat consumption expected to double by 2050... I mean we can't double 70%.

Of course a vegetarian diet is always an important solution we must not forget about!!!

gburgdan21 karma

Is this technology being used to facilitate new tissue growth for humans?

ishadatar42 karma

Cultured meat research really piggybacks off of human regenerative medicine/tissue engineering/stem cell technologies.

So in fact, we're learning from them more than they are learning from us.

bloomcnd19 karma

What are the predictions regarding jobs lost in the farming industry compared to jobs created with new "meat labs" (or however you call the new production facilities)?

BTW, I am really looking forward to trying your meat and think it is a fantastic way to fight bad farming practices!

ishadatar23 karma

This would be an example of good research to do.

Of course it depends on which country you're looking at. Some countries are extremely dependent on importing meat (like Japan).. if meat could be cultured in metropolitan areas.. that would create jobs and stimulate a local economy.

wernermuende17 karma

-Can you elaborate what measures you are taking to avoid using FCS and how these attempts compare.

-Can you estimate when fat cells will enter the picture?

-What do you expectfrom hardcore vegan consumers? How many vegans will actually eat this stuff?

-Will it be possible to actually grow bigger pieces with natural consistency but unnatural shapes ? like 1 kg cube shaped beef...

ishadatar29 karma

The cultured meat community (not me personally) is working on plant-based media, specifically algae-based (which is high in protein and other nutrients) and mushroom-based (good amino acid profile).

Mark Post mentioned at the event that fat could have been part of the picture within the next five months (though not at scale).

Not sure how many vegans will get eat it. In my books, none of them have to. They already have the most sustainable, humane, environmentally sound diet there is! Which may be one reason that some may oppose cultured meat development.

That all depends on innovation in process. A 3d printing technique seems best for your proposition. Shapes are totally manipulatable. In fact we already eat standardized non-nature occurring shapes (think of the four McDonalds chicken nuggets...).

avsa14 karma

Since you stated that the process could be used on any animal, I suppose its technically possible to grow human meat. Would you ever consider it or do you think society wouldn't be ready for the ethical debate? Would you eat your own meat?

ishadatar22 karma

Yes, it is technically possible. In fact it might be easier since we have so much more familiarity with human cells than the cell lines of agricultural animals.

I'd probably try my own meat. I don't see why not.

As for society... I never know what it wants :) but it's not a bad thought-experiment to engage in.

TalkingBackAgain13 karma

How long before your product is in restaurants and, in texture and taste, undistinguishable from the real thing?

Also, at what point after the first consumption of the product do you typically expect us to die from horrible diseases?

ishadatar17 karma

I guess we should watch those tasters carefully for the next several years.

There is really no reason why it would be dangerous. Especially since equivalent technology is used to create organs to be transplanted INTO PEOPLE's BODIES! Which is far more sterile/prone to problems than digestion.

Hard to say about indistinguishability, just cause as it stands there are so many qualities/types of meat. I'd say a ground meat product is coming soon.

Restaurants? Depends on when the product is available. And that depends on how much money goes into development. You can help move it forward by donating to New Harvest!

ilikescarlet13 karma

Do you think people will be able to grow their own meat similar to how we grow our own veg? Obviously this would be a long way down the line, just wondering if you think it's possible?

ishadatar24 karma

Yes!!! I LOVE the idea of meat production becoming something that happens locally.

In fact, a future with this technology can look a lot different than our present relationship with meat. You could culture meat and home. Or a nearby posh restaurant can culture steaks made in house! I'd say it's more like brewing your own beer than growing your own veg.

Kitchen counter top bioreactors!

window510 karma

What can the low and stable population West do to lessen global warming compared to the impact of ultra high and growing population Asia?

ishadatar35 karma

Eat less meat.

Guustaaf9 karma

  • I've read that cultured chicken meat is harder to produce than beef for example, why is that?
  • I've also read that the cultured beef was white, and had to be coloured with beet juice to make it look more appealing, do you know how this will be fixed and how hard that will be?
  • Where does the mass of the meat come from? When cultured meat is produced in much larger quantities, I imagine it needs to 'grow' from some kind of 'food', because you can't make something from nothing, what do you think this 'food' will be?

Sorry if the answers to these are already available in some paper, I bet they are, but I'm lazy :). Also super proud that this all originated in my home town btw.

ishadatar12 karma

Maybe because cow cells are mammalian and more like the cells we've cultured in the past? And we have less knowledge about chicken cells? That would be my guess. But it is a guess. Mark Post's lab chose beef because it has the highest environmental impact of the common meats, per kg of meat.

You can fix the colour by adding myoglobin, the "iron holding molecule" in muscle. You can create this with recombinant plants/bacteria.

The food for the meat will be a liquid media, which should be plant-based. Lots of research needs to be done in this area still.

alejandrobro8 karma

Do you worry at all about how this may affect the lives of farmers in say, 30 years, when the technology is mastered and they're forced out of job?

On a contrasting note, will you be able to create other in vitro food stuffs? For example, as well as meat, would it be possible to have lab created milk?

ishadatar20 karma

I think farmers were pushed out of their jobs over the past 30 years when farming because industrialized and in the control of massive corporations rather than independent farmers.

People will have to farm the media, people will work in cultured meat facilities. Farming is evolving and I think this offers something safer (less health hazards than working in factory farms, for one thing) than being controlled by a multinational corporation.

Milk.. hmm.. I guess you'd have to make a breast artificially. That'd be bizarre, hey?

Sacrifice_Pawn9 karma

High quality farm raised meat is still going to be in demand, but it will be of the free range / organic kind. There are also plenty of regions where pasturing live stock makes more sense then trying to raise crops. So hopefully small scale farming continues, while industrial agriculture dies out.

ishadatar2 karma


avgwhtguy11 karma

I think community gardens and family farms are making a comeback, and your starting to see more people order straight from the farm, look for locally grown, etc. Do you think its greener and healthier to eat a corporate lab burger or a locally grown grass fed one?

ishadatar2 karma

The lab burger is not corporate. Funding has been philanthropic and all the information is in the public space. There are no corporate players involved (yet) and hopefully we can keep these developments as public as possible. I mean food is public!! Why shouldn't we be able to know about it!

It's hard to compare which burger is more responsible to eat. I think a locally grown grass fed one is how beef was raised traditionally, and unless you're opposed to slaughter, is probably the best way to eat beef. And supporting local business is great.

On the other hand the cultured hamburger is slaughter free and requires less resources than a standard hamburger. And who knows, maybe cultured meat can be a local business too. You wouldn't need massive tracts of land in the middle of nowhere to do it.

drewsaysgoveg7 karma

Cultured meats seem like a promising potential solution to some ecological problems, social issues, and animal cruelty that seems so common in factory farming. Considering that it will be at least a few decades before the first cultured meat products are even commercially available, what do you suggest we do in the meantime to address the problems associated with these factory-farmed foods? What kinds of some actions can we as individuals take now to address these issues?

ishadatar19 karma

Eat less (or no) meat altogether! And if you want to eat meat, buy it from a farm that produces it sustainably. The fewer degrees of separation between you and the farmer, the better.

salsawood6 karma

As someone in the aerospace industry, the potential for this to be used in long-duration space flight is really exciting. Have you considered contacting NASA about this?

How was this burger produced? I understand that the meat was grown from stem cells, but hamburgers aren't naturally occuring cuts of bovine meat...was there many different cuts grown from stem cells that were then put through a meat grinder, like a traditional hamburger?

ishadatar14 karma

NASA funded this research in the early 00s, but discontinued it shortly after. For the reasons your mentioned.

Question for you: Are astronauts vegetarian in space?

This is how the burger was made:

EvilLittleCar6 karma

So who got to taste the burger? Was it good? Did it have a different flavor?

ishadatar5 karma

penis_sound_wave5 karma

Were you tempted to prank people during the taste test by having a seizure and screaming "I shouldn't have played god!" or something?

ishadatar6 karma

I didn't taste the burger, so it would have been weird to do that from the audience.

dszordan4 karma

I can't watch the TED talk at the moment, I wish I could.

I'm wondering if cultured meat is less wasteful than meat grown from traditional methods. I remember a TED talk on the inefficiency of producing meat. They explained that 10kg of animal feed could either go towards producing 1kg of cattle or 9kg of grasshoppers. It essentially was saying that smaller animals are more efficient to produce.

Would culture meat require the equivalent of 10kg of feed to produce 1kg? Via the FAQS on it says this method is more efficient, but it doesn't give any numbers.

ishadatar4 karma

Check this paper out:

It doesn't look at feed cause that would be hard to compare, but it looks at other inputs such as land, water (indirectly related to feed).

You_Talk_Funny3 karma

I was an audience member in Dara O'Briain's Science Club show for the BBC, I'm not sure if you participated in the episode but one of the panel guests visited the lab where the meat was created.

It was noted that it look an extremely long time to process an extremely small amount of beef, how are you planning to accelerate this process? Is it simply a question of larger and more processing machines?

ishadatar4 karma

It's a question of engineering. The process used in Mark Post's lab was experimental scale. How a student might do it. (Like making your own shoes from scratch rather than buying one made in a factory). The factory (bioreactors) need to be designed.

It's a question of scale up, mechanization and bigger, more efficient bioreactors. Look at beer. You can either make it at home with a home brewing kit.. or you can buy stuff made in bioreactors several stories tall.

MTLinVAN3 karma

How is cultured meet actually made? Can something made in a lab really be better than something made in/by nature? And what purpose does creating meet in a lab serve versus eating animal protein?

ishadatar8 karma

It's made by culturing muscle cells outside of an animal. Here is the process that Mark Post used to create the burger that was tasted on Monday:

The reasons to do this are many. To help the environment (livestock production today is super resource intensive and polluting), public health (livestock production is a breeding ground for bacterial contamination and viral epidemic disease), and animal welfare (mass production of animals does not go hand in hand with appropriate welfare practices)

PaperPhoneBox3 karma

can I get a ELI5 here or a term I can Google please?

what exactly is this stuff made out of?

is it plant?

ishadatar13 karma

The big idea is that instead of raising an entire cow to have a steak, you could take a small sample of cells from the cow, then multiply them outside of the cow to create muscle tissue. Because muscle tissue is meat.

You can watch how the burger tasted last week was made in this video from the event:

PaperPhoneBox2 karma

thank you

ishadatar3 karma

No problem!

rick28823 karma

Do you believe that within 50 years, killing animals for meat will be considered inhumane for the most part, and will be banned in some more progressive nations?

ishadatar5 karma

Within 50 years I am not sure, but I think a step that might happen soon is a tax on meat. It is extremely environmentally un-friendly and dangerous to public health. And of course very inconsiderate of animal welfare.

I personally want to see zoos banned first. Then based on what happens with that we'll talk about meat!

franticantelope3 karma

Other than origin, are there any differences between cultured meat and regular meat? Could it be made to be healthier or last longer than regular meat?

ishadatar11 karma

The cultured meat that was tasted last Monday was different in that it was made of pure muscle tissue, whereas a burger we'd normally eat would have fats and other tissues incorporated.

In the future research can handle co-culturing various tissues or at least culturing them separately and re-assembling later on.

Theoretically it could be made healthier because you could control aspects you didn't want to include like saturated fats! It would also be healthier because it would be grown in a sterile environment, not subject to the massive E.coli/Salmonella/etc recalls that happen so often. Which ties into shelf life, I'd say.

Skeldave3 karma

I was wondering whether the meat is actually 100% meat, or does it contain any sort of artificial additives like most foods do these days?

ishadatar3 karma

The burger that was tasted on Monday contained beet juice and saffron for colouring, and egg as a binder for the burger. Nothing was artificial.

The product does not need to contain additives. But additives tend to be included for function (binders) or presentation (beet juice).

The product that comes out of a bioreactor should be pure meat.

rep_movsd2 karma

I just want to say : Great job! Your research is the turning point in history where meat consumption is completely ethical and causes neither death nor suffering. Thank you! Can't wait for this to be commercially available.

ishadatar2 karma

No problem! You can help the cause

And I encourage you to follow developments in this space with the newsletter.

TenderFoot_Alien2 karma

Once cultured meat becomes mainstream, what dish will you cook first?

ishadatar7 karma

Probably a lasagna. Because the first products will resemble a ground meat rather than a structured one like a steak. And lasagna is just good.

Munegascu2 karma

People see great perspectives in this method to grow meat especially to get rid of the food problems around the world. However, I've heard it cost $330,000 to produce sufficient meat for this tasting. The costs of production of lab-grown meat must be cut down in order to be widely distributed.

  • Do you think this is achievable in the short-term? In the long-term?

  • Are there any industrial development projects that were launched and are ongoing right now?

  • Is it a market that is promising in the forthcoming years or is it going to stay in labs for a while until we see it on supermarket shelves?

ishadatar5 karma

It is definitely achievable in the long term. In the short term there is still a lot of research to do in terms of stabilizing cell lines, figuring out an animal-free media to grow cells in, and designing bioreactors to do the culturing in.

The 300K was to create a proof of concept. Think of the first computer. Monstrous, expensive, highly impractical. This burger is all those things. Meant to show that it is PHYSICALLY possible, but much more investment and research is required to make it practical.

Industry has remained out of the picture so far. Which could be a good thing! This is a way to start some new industry, stimulate new players in the meat industry (which is currently dominated by 4 giants... highly uncompetitive). The work to date has been PHILANTHROPIC. Individuals like yourself have been providing funds to labs working on the research. Which is amazing. This is a product pushed by people, rather than pushed by industry.

It's going to to take time to get it in front of society but the speed of getting it there totally depends on funds.

Munegascu2 karma

Thanks for your answer, I will definitely follow the next achievements in this domain.

ishadatar2 karma

A great way to follow activity in this space is through the New Harvest newsletter:

And Facebook.

Hexaploid2 karma

When this makes it to market, how well do you expect it to do against already established meat alternatives, like vege-burgers and whatnot, which IMO are already pretty darned good substitutes, hindered mostly in large part to the stigma of not actually being meat?

Also, do you have any per-emptive plans to counter the inevitable junk science claiming cultured meat is dangerous? If genetically engineered crops have taught us anything, it is that anything perceived as creepy or unnatural will eventually have some crank claim its dangerous.

ishadatar3 karma

I think plant-based alternatives have come a long way and will penetrate the meat eating market more in the future. A key to this (in my opinion) is steering away from marketing itself as a veg*n product, and instead as a product that any person can/should eat. And I can't wait for the day when plant-based alternatives are right in the meat section of the grocery store, rather than hidden away in a separate fridge in a corner somewhere.

We can only counter junk science with real science. The problem with GMOs is that there isn't too much transparency surrounding them and the research isn't really out there. This research is, so far, and I hope to keep is there as much as I can. Check out the research so far:

picturesofmiceandmen2 karma

Do you think this will drastically change the food and meat industries?

ishadatar2 karma

It has the capacity to change the meat industry. Which seems ok to me, personally. I'm not a fan of how meat is produced in North America.

EvilLittleCar2 karma

So how many jokes do you get a day based on Soylent Green?

ishadatar6 karma

Zero, cause they are never fully formed jokes. More like abstract mentions or blurting words. Hahaha

Smellslikesnow1 karma

Have you read Margaret Atwood's "Oryx & Crake" and "The Year of the Flood"? These books are the first two parts of her Madaddam trilogy. Madaddam, the final instalment, is out September 2013.

Atwood's dystopian trilogy features cultured meat and GM chickens (bred to have little brain function but huge breasts--sounds like Pamela Anderson, eh!)

I recommend that trilogy highly--you'll enjoy it, I'm sure!

ishadatar2 karma

I've seen visualizations of Chickie Nobs. I guess they would at least have chicken skin. Which I think will be really hard to cultured.

Thanks for the recommendation!!

theoneOshen1 karma

Do you see this cultured meat completely eliminating "natural" meat consumption in 50 years? 100 years? 200 years? Or ever, really?

ishadatar1 karma

I don't see it eliminating conventional meat consumption as long as there is proper pasture for animals. BUT What if we decide to seastead or live in space? or what if a disease wipes out the agricultural animal population? That's probably a most-likely scenario. Remember all those dead pigs floating through the river in Shanghai?

willmill11 karma

How were the myosatellite cells cultured? most stem cells are adherent and are grown on a substrate, so did this involve a similar process with hundreds of square meters of culture plastic?

ishadatar1 karma

This video shows the process for creating the burger:

Natethegreat131 karma

"Soylent Green is people!"

That's just my first thought. But really, this is pretty cool. Good luck in your research!

ishadatar1 karma

It's weird how often that is a first thought. Or parallels to GMOs.. which make even less sense.


nondefectiveunit1 karma

Where'd you get those glasses?

ishadatar5 karma

I got them in 2007 at a Lenscrafters in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I have only seen one other person wearing them, and she was a senior citizen. :)

st17101 karma

Does this mean we can all taste panda-burgers and human-burgers soon?

ishadatar1 karma

Would you culture your own cells? 0_0

biodude871 karma

how do you plan to make it animal product-free for vegans? As of now, we have to add FBS (a supplement from cow fetuses) for most of mammalian cultured cells - i'm a scientist. Replacements like mushroom extract won't work given that they are missing the growth factors that mammalian cells produce. As of now, we can synthesize proteins in a lab chemically but the process is so expensive and the composition of serum so complicated. Moreover, tissue cultured cells have tons of antibiotics added (we use penicillin/streptomycin) and i doubt consumers want to eat cells bathed in antibiotics.

biodude872 karma

one more thing to add. how will you also lower the costs given you need scaffolds and a ton of cells to grow? I did a pilot estimate using current prices for raw material from biosuppliers to determine the cost to produce the number of cells needed for a typical-sized burger and found each burger to be around 2-3 thousand dollars (

Even with a bulk discount (say 50% off) and economies of scale, that could end up being several hundred per burger, which for the average consumer is unsustainable. I'm wondering what is the strategy for lowering the price signicantly.

ishadatar1 karma

That's a cool estimate! Biosupplier costs are expensive because anything bought for lab is marked up heavily. I think a lot of economies of scale can be achieved through recycling media and scaffolding through a proper recycling system and producing bioreactors which maximize cell growth.

ishadatar1 karma

Creating a plant-based medium is probably the hardest part of this project. But I believe it can be done. Many growth factors can be created with recombinant bacteria. Many animal-free media already exist but they are so heavily protected that you have no idea what is in them. If there was a global push in the scientific community to focus on plant-based serum, then it would happen quickly. The thing is that it is not a demand for medical research, unfortunately.

Yes there are antibiotics involved and how to get around that I am not totally sure. So something more to investigate.

As a scientist, do you think antibiotics in cell culture can contribute to resistant bacteria in the same way antibiotics used in whole organisms can? I'm thinking no.

ManCaveDaily1 karma

Do you have plans to use this technology to help curb poaching and overfishing?

ishadatar2 karma

Good question. In fact, before cultured meat becomes something people it, it could have applications in fish feed and cat food.

1/3 of the world's catch goes towards creating fishmeal for feeding other fish, which are then eaten by humans. Our oceans are being depleted because we are feeding farmed fish fishmeal. Semi-tongue twister.

At this present time, not much research is being done in cultured fish tissue but I hope cultured meat research investigates all species as time progresses. The main reason why fish hasn't been looked at is because much more research has been in mammalian cell culture to date.

Folderpirate-1 karma

So, I noticed you skirted around whether you tried any yourself in the title.

Did you?

ishadatar7 karma

No! I didn't get a chance. They wanted to keep the tasters unbiased. Because I probably would have raved about it :)