A boon to the people who love meat- eat meat without killing animals! It sounds incredibly insane, right? Believe it or not, food industries would switch on to tissue-engineered lab-grown meat to cater to the growing demand for meat products in the future. Not just to tackle the demands, but to foster ethical consumption of meat, to promote eco-friendly sustainable practices, the concept of tissue-engineered meat (artificially grown in the laboratory) has taken shape.
The researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IIT-G), have developed lab-grown meat through animal tissue culture techniques. The researchers isolated different kinds of cells from animals such as fat cells, bone cells, and muscle progenitor cells through biopsies and grew them in distinct layers that had been developed. They have applied for a patent for this tissue-engineered meat.
Is the lab-grown meat safe to consume? This is the most common question that would arise in our mind. Before answering this, Is the meat that we buy in shops/stores safe to consume? With added hormones, antibiotics, growth factors, and animal serums, the traditional meat that we consume poses various health hazards to our body. But lab-grown meat will not be susceptible to such external chemicals since tissue culturing of one animal is enough to produce large amount of meat. So there is no need to hasten the breeding and growth of animals in tissue-engineering.
Manipulation of artificial meat is also possible. The meat produced by them is customizable as per the requirements of the consumers, equally nutritious and tasty as that of the traditional meat. The meat can be grown in various shapes and sizes, lean or fatty, and can also be transformed into solid dry meat products making it perfect for commercialization. In traditional meat production methods, water is wasted enormously for livestock production but meat produced by tissue culture methods minimizes the water consumption.
Owing to the increasing demand for meat and the benefits of lab-cultured meat, new start-ups can leverage such research and technologies to establish cruelty-free, eco-friendly, sustainable meat production. If accepted, adopted, and widely supported, tissue engineering technology is what the future meat industry would call for!
“The taste of the final meat product will remain similar to raw meat but with improvised nutritional values as per customer needs”- Dr. Biman B Mandal, IIT-Guwahati