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Scientists Unveil the $325,000 Burger - Made in a Test Tube

Update Date: May 14, 2013 12:18 PM EDT
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To the foodie, Mark Post's $325,000 burger may not be anything special. In fact, in informal taste tests, he described the meat as "reasonably good". Unlike other extravagant burgers, the burger does not include delicacies like gold or truffles. However, Dr. Post's burger does offer several things that other more gastronomically pleasing menu items do not: it has no fat. Even more astoundingly, it was made in a test tube. Yes, this burger was made with very little animal at all.

According to ABC News, the Dutch scientist hopes that he can change minds about meat made in a laboratory. He hopes that the technology can  help make food more accessible to the world's population. Indeed, as the world's population is growing, so too is its appetite for meat. The burger may be expensive now, he says, but as with all of technology, the price will drop.

The New York Times reports that the process in developing the burger has been a laborious one. The burger was created using materials, like fetal calf serum, that will need to be replaced by materials of non-animal origins. Dr. Post's process starts with a form of stem cell called a myosatellite cell, which the body uses to help repair damaged tissue. The cells, taken from a cow's neck, are placed in materials that help them grow.

After the cells are obtained, they are placed in a plastic dish with a bit of gel. Starved of nutrients, the cells are forced to turn into thin strips of muscle. From there, the cells are minced to become a burger.

There are challenges, aside from the price of the technology. Because there is a limit to how often myosatellite cells can reproduce, critics charge that the process will never be cruelty-free to animals. People also wonder about how safe the meat can be, and whether consumers will choose to eat meat that was grown in a lab. In fact, if the material does not come directly from an animal, some critics wonder if consumers will view the burger as meat at all.

In a few weeks, the BBC reports that the burger will be cooked and eaten at an event in London. Post says that it will only be seasoned with salt and pepper.

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