US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Where's the beef? Scientists develop an artificial, environmentally-friendly hamburger

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Will there be a new option for people looking to eat meatless on Fridays in Lent? It may take years to reach that point, but scientists today in London prepared and served a hamburger that was made entirely in a lab. At a price tag of $325,000 and with a two-year production, this was not your average Big Mac or Whopper.

According to Mark Post, one of the burger’s chefs creators, lab-made meat could eventually become a protein source that isn’t saddled with the environmental and animal-rights concerns that typically surround livestock production. Post’s goal in making the burger was to “let beef eaters eat beef in an environmentally friendly and ethical way.” Studies show (and vegetarians often cite as reasoning for their dietary decisions) that conventional meat production can negatively affect resources such as water, land, and energy, while also contributing to large emissions of greenhouse gases. Post even indicated that depending on how the cell tissues are acquired, future artificial burgers could be developed without having to kill an animal to produce meat.

It could take at least 10 years before the lab burgers are available for commercial sale—with an estimated cost of about $30 per pound. The verdict from today’s taste test was that the artificial burger was dry and a bit flavorless (likely due to the fact that it contained no fat or salt), although the bite still felt like a conventional burger.

What do you think—is this an important breakthrough that could help reduce our impact on our environment and strengthen our call to care for creation? Or should the scientists just let nature take its course?