Lab-grown steaks the size of a credit card have been grown and eaten for the first time, according to an Israeli firm.
Cell-cultured meat takes samples from living animals and turns them into food using scientific methods and incubation.
A race is evolving among technology companies to become the first to successfully create a viable product.
Previous attempts have seen mince meat and chicken nuggets created but failed to form complex animal tissue structures, such as steaks.
Biotechnology firm Aleph Farms claims to have found a way to produce slaughter-free meat with the same texture as the authentic alternative.
The technology comes at a time when a growing population of vegans, vegetarians and animal rights activists are waging an ethical war against the eating of meat.
Cattle farming and agriculture accounts for vast amounts of available land and is a leading contributor of greenhouse gases.
Lab-grown steaks the size of a credit card have been grown in a lab and eaten for the first time. Cell-cultured meat takes samples from living animals and turns them into food using scientific methods and incubation (stock)
As part of a video feature for the Wall Street Journal, Jason Bellini visited the base of the firm on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
Two incubators, named Alberto and Gertrude, are where several petri dishes are growing with cells from two cows which remain alive and well.
They imitate the conditions inside a cow to produce the most accurate cells possible.
A complex series of tests then produces four different types of animal tissue; support cells, fat cells, blood vessel cells and muscle cells.
These are then combined to form a complex shape and after three weeks forms a fully-fledged steak.
Technology for the cruelty-free ‘meat’ is still developing and the firm claims it would cost approximately $50 for a single piece of the thin steak.
Didier Toubia, CEO of Aleph Farms said that the taste and flavour are ’60 – 70 per cent’ of the way to the desired goal and product will not be available commercially for at least two years.
‘In theory, we’re talking you could be eating bison meat without killing bison. You could be eating whale without harming whales,’ says Jan Dutkiewicz, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University.
Development of the technology has been steadily progressing, with Just Food, a San Francisco-based firm, working on using plant protein to create meat replacements.
The company claims its non-chicken nuggets will be available before the end of 2018 and has today announced a partnership to develop and market a cell-cultured version of the upmarket Japanese beef Wagyu.
‘Precious few have had the chance to experience umami Wagyu and we hope this partnership allows more restaurants to share Toriyama beef and its story in a new, exciting way,’ Just co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick said in a statement.
The meat industry is one of the most dominant sectors in the world and requires an enormous amount of resources.
A race is evolving among scientific companies to become the first to successfully create a viable cell-cultured meat-alternative. Previous attempts have created mince meat and chicken nuggets but failed to form complex animal tissue structures, such as steaks (stock)
A complex series of tests then produces four different types of animal tissue; support cells, fat cells, blood vessel cells and muscle cells. These are then combined to form a complex shape and after three weeks forms a fully-fledged steak
Scientists from Oxford University and the Swiss agricultural research institute, Agroscope published a paper earlier this year which examined 40,000 farms and 1,600 processors, packaging types, and retailers in 119 countries.
The study was the most comprehensive analysis yet of the damage farming does to the planet.
It also assessed how different production practices and geographies lead to different environmental impacts for 40 major foods.
They found that without meat and dairy consumption, global agricultural land would be reduced by 76 per cent.
This equates to the size of the US, China, European Union and Australia combined, and there would still be enough food to feed the world.
A small number of producers create much of the impact: Just 15 per cent of beef production creates approximately 1.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalents and uses about 950 million hectares of land.
An Oxford study found that without meat and dairy consumption, global agricultural land would be reduced by 76 percent. This equates to the size of the US, China, European Union and Australia combined, and there would still be enough food to feed the world
HOW IS ‘TEST TUBE MEAT’ GROWN IN A LABORATORY?
‘Test tube meat’ is a term used to describe meat products grown in a laboratory
‘Test tube meat’ is a term used to describe meat products grown in a laboratory.
They are made by harvesting stem cells from the muscle tissue of living livestock.
The cells, which have the ability to regenerate, are then cultured in a nutrient soup of sugars and minerals.
These cells are then left to develop inside bioreactor tanks into skeletal muscle that can be harvested in just a few weeks.
Lab-grown beef was first created by Dutch scientists in 2013. A test tube hamburger was served at a restaurant in London to two food critics.
In March 2017, San Francisco firm Memphis Meats successfully grew poultry meat from stem cells for the first time.
In March 2017, San Francisco firm Memphis Meats successfully grew poultry meat from stem cells for the first time. The company also makes lab-grown meatballs (pictured)
A study from a Harvard academic further compounded the impact farming has on the world.
It found that if all people on Earth turned vegan, the world would be almost half way towards meeting the lofty climate change targets set by the Paris Agreement.
These targets state that global temperatures should be limited to a 1.5˚C (2.7°F) increase by 2030.
Methane and nitrous oxide are produced in huge quantities by livestock and are significant contributors to global warming.
Animal rights activists, scientists and conservationists have long petitioned for a reduction in the worldwide consumption of meat and dairy products to reduce the impact on the environment.
Although it is not enough to reach climate change targets on its own, the livestock sector still has a key role to play in helping to reach the ambitious targets, scientists have urged.
A study from Harvard found that if all people on Earth stopped eating the animal-derived products the drop in greenhouse gas emissions globally would be insufficient to reach the 1.5˚C increased in temperature by 2030 as outlined by the Paris Agreement (stock)
Previous studies suggested reducing meat and dairy consumption also provides a range of added benefits such as preserving biodiversity and improving human health.
The current livestock population in the world is around 28 billion animals and constitutes the highest source of two major greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous oxide.
The production of methane in particular is troublesome, as it has an 85 times greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.
Methane emissions from the livestock sector are projected to rise by 60 per cent by 2030.
Getting protein from vegetables, grains or meat alternatives instead of animals would drastically reduce the risk of failing to reach temperature goals, researchers have said.
Alpha Farms uses two incubators, named Alberto and Gertrude to nurture the cells. They are filled with several petri dishes are growing with cells from two cows which remain alive and well. They imitate the conditions inside a cow to produce the most accurate cells possible (stock)
Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, told MailOnline: ‘We welcome any reduction in animal suffering and lab grown meat can provide a kinder alternative for those who still wish to eat meat.
‘Sooner or later, the world’s growing population will be forced to eat less meat because factory farming is not sustainable.
‘Rather than waiting for this to happen, it is more beneficial for the animals and the planet to try find an alternative for the people who are not ready to be vegan at the moment.
‘There are environmental benefits as well as potential contribution to combating world hunger by lab grown meat.
‘On the other hand, the debate about whether this is the future of food could be seen as a distraction from the real issue of promoting plant based diets as a valid solution here and now.’
Governing the budding industry has brought about a new era in food oversight in the US, with no existing legislation currently in place to deal with meat from animals that have not been killed.
It was announced last month that the FDA and the USDA will have joint control over the sector.
The US state of Missouri has also implemented legislature which says that a food can not be called ‘meat’ if it has not come from an animal.
This was welcomed with open arms by farmers and cattle ranchers in the US who feel the world of cell-cultured foods and meats threatens their livelihoods.
Kevin Kester, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said the law i Missouri is a step in the right direction.
He added: ‘There’ll be other states, I’ve been told about, that will make the same attempts to clarify what defines meat.
‘We want to make sure we have a level playing field on marketing and safety inspection.
‘We don’t know what they’re products are yet.’
WHAT IS THE PARIS AGREEMENT?
The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.
It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.
It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions.
In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention for the US, the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, to withdraw from the agreement.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:
1) A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels
2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change
3) Goverments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries
4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science
Source: European Commission