Stem cell research is indeed mighty: it could give us bacon.

Jan 19, 2010

Well, kinda. Hopefully soon, but not quite yet.

A team of stem cell researchers at Maastricht University have worked out a way to culture porcine stem cells in vitro to grow edible meat. It's not bacon yet - it's not pork-like, either, but has a texture more akin to cooked scallop - but it's a start. The team hopes to perfect this method so that it could be used to produce edible meat with far less impact upon the Earth's biosphere. As things stand now slaughterhouses and the greenhouse gases produced by farming pigs are a topic of concern to environmentalists, to say nothing of the parts of the pigs that can't be used for anything (no hot dog jokes, please). This could also eventually lead to a way to feed people living in regions where major farming efforts aren't possible. Of course, there are a few people out there who are concerned about the potential impact of eating vat-grown meat upon the health of people but it's really too soon to tell yet. Peter Ellis, biochemist, remarked that the flavor and texture of meat are more than just what sort of animal it came from - how the muscle fibres are patterned and marbling are also key factors, and no one's sure if they can be replicated in the lab, let alone in a manufacturing plant.