More thoughts on lab meat


I know what you’re thinking: ‘My god, are they aborting cow fetuses?’ No, silly, they only remove the fetus after the pregnant mommy cow has been slaughtered using normal means. My understanding is the fetus is still (somewhat) alive at this point, so it’s mercifully killed via a large needle piercing the heart. Then the fetal blood is drained off and centrifuged to separate the serum from the blood cells. The serum then provides the growth medium for your synth-burger. Mmmm! That’s good eatin’!

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Soylent green is… COW!

Knowing a bit about mammalian cell culture, I’ve been wondering ever since this group’s first press release months and months ago whether they were (as is common) using FBS (fetal bovine serum) - and been very suspicious that they didn’t make a definite assertion that no animal products were used, and that they hadn’t published a paper that would disclose their methods (they’ve published a review, in a journal my school doesn’t access and which I didn’t bother to track down). So far as I know, the people who made the $330,000 in vitro burger still haven’t answered that question - I’m not aware they’ve been asked it, and the Mother Jones post talks about general practice but doesn’t seem to have information from this specific group. If this group is using FBS in their cell culture, they’re utter frauds, because they have cheerfully (and massively) publicized themselves as producing a burger made without slaughtering cows.

With current cell culture techniques, how much meat can you grow from 1 cow fetus’ cells? How much in principle? Can we at least kill fewer cows this way?


My largest concern is with proprietary issues. Will this become a patented technology used to control the distribution of food to starving nations? Is this another step in the control of the food chain by big business?

I was wondering about this because I thought “Well what about the fetal calf serum (FCS)?”

Now you can get immortalized cell lines that’ll grow without FCS, but probably most of those cell lines are essentially tumors. Want a rare “cancer burger?”

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