02 Feb 11 Growing meat in the lab
In a small laboratory on an upper floor of the basic science building at the Medical University of South Carolina, Vladimir Mironov, MD, PhD, has been working for a decade to grow meat. A developmental biologist and tissue engineer, Dr Mironov, 56, is one of only a few scientists worldwide involved in bioengineering “cultured” meat.
It’s a product he believes could help solve future global food crises resulting from shrinking amounts of land available for growing meat the old-fashioned way … on the hoof.
Growth of “in-vitro” or cultured meat is also under way in the Netherlands, Mironov told Reuters in an interview, but in the United States, it is science in search of funding and demand.
The new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the US Food and Drug Administration, won’t fund it, the National Institutes of Health won’t fund it, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration funded it only briefly, Mironov said.
“It’s classic disruptive technology,” Mironov said. “Bringing any new technology on the market, average, costs $1 billion. We don’t even have $1 million.”
Director of the Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Center in the Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology at the medical university, Mironov now primarily conducts research on tissue engineering, or growing, of human organs.
“There’s a yuck factor when people find out meat is grown in a lab. They don’t like to associate technology with food,” said Nicholas Genovese, 32, a visiting scholar in cancer cell biology working under a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals three-year grant to run Dr Mironov’s meat-growing lab.
“But there are a lot of products that we eat today that are considered natural that are produced in a similar manner,” Genovese said.
“There’s yogurt, which is cultured yeast. You have wine production and beer production. These were not produced in laboratories. Society has accepted these products.”
If wine is produced in winery, beer in a brewery and bread in a bakery, where are you going to grow cultured meat?
In a “carnery,” if Mironov has his way. That is the name he has given future production facilities.
He envisions football field-sized buildings filled with large bioreactors, or bioreactors the size of a coffee machine in grocery stores, to manufacture what he calls “charlem” — “Charleston engineered meat.”