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Surprising Science

Feeding the World With a Single Protein Cell

In theory, a single cell from one animal can be used to feed the entire global population, without stressing the environment, says a new short film on the future of meat production.

What’s the Latest Development?

A new method of producing meat for human consumption, called in vitro meat, might one day supply the world with healthy protein without the accompanying environmental problems currently associated with meat production. The process involves extracting stem cells from a cow and soaking them in a nutrient-rich solution which converts them, with the aid of electrical impulses, into muscle cells. Those cells could be made into sausage or hamburger meat.

What’s the Big Idea?

According to the USDA, 10 billion animals are killed in the U.S. alone in order to provide meat to the world. Raising those animals requires large investments of water and grain, an investment which is much less efficient than growing vegetables for food. If the production of in vitro meat were to be brought under control, meat could be modified by adding healthy ingredients like omega-3 fats in place of saturated fats. As human population expands, a solution to current meat consumption will become increasingly necessary.

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