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Billionaires and big ag are joining venture investors to fund lab-grown meat (techcrunch.com)
214 points by sethbannon 110 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments



For those that are curious, as an early investor and advocate for clean meat, I wrote about my experience eating Memphis Meats' products and why their solution is so much better than convention meat production: https://medium.com/@sethbannon/i-just-ate-meat-for-the-first...


Since you seem to know people in this industry, can you encourage them to put phosphorus numbers on nutrition labels. Currently they are not required by law. People like I with a failing kidney need to watch our phosphorus levels but still consume high amounts of protein. Knowing this little bit of information would open up a new food options for us.


It is impressive that despite not eating meat for 20 years you feel you are in a good position to talk about the realism of the meat product you have invested in.


I literally had flashbacks of the 12 year old me. It was a taste I hadn't experienced in some time. But your point is a fair one. For what it's worth, the WSJ was also at the tasting and their reporter (a meat eater) also said that it tasted exactly like meat.


I find it disingenous to call meat grown in a lab clean meat. Would you call Margarine clean butter ?


If the stats in the article are true, 96% less greenhouse emissions, 45% less energy, 99% less land use and 96% less water used in the production of the lab meat, I think it makes perfect sense to call it clean meat. Plus it doesn't involve the death of an animal, which is pretty "clean" I guess.


I think this is an issue of context.

"Clean" food means something very different than "clean" energy.

If I'm looking for clean food, my standards are very different than someone looking for clean energy. I know folks who wouldn't think lab grown meat was very clean simply because it was created in a lab.

All that to say: you're not wrong, but clean means something very different to the food-conscious person shopping at their local co-op.


>> I know folks who wouldn't think lab grown meat was very clean simply because it was created in a lab.

I'm confused, it's not clean because it was grown in a lab, or is there some other factor?


"Clean food" generally means minimally processed--you are eating food that is as close to its natural form as possible, such this[0]. So, meat created in a laboratory is about as far aware from this sort of "clean eating" as possible.

[0] https://the30clean.com/what-is-30-clean/


That quoted website just sounds like pseudo-BS-science, especially since the very first thing they mention is removing gluten from diet. That particular horse has been beaten to death and then a bit more.

Our bodies don't give two shits whether the food we eat was grown outside in a natural environment or in a lab - as long as it's chemically the same then there can't be any difference to how we absorb it.

Edit: Ok, after going deeper onto this website it mentions doing juice cleanses and ridding yourself of "toxins". Stay as far away from this website as possible.


Just to be clear, I'm not advocating this website. I'm just trying to point out that "clean" food can mean different things to different people, and that's why some folks might not think meat created in a lab should be considered "clean."


Also, calling it green meat might not evoke the desired association.


Why not? As long as its vegan margarine. Its clean of at least a subset of ethical concerns that many foods are not. Clean is a very overloaded word though so I certainly see where you're coming from, but it works just fine for me.


Well, butter is a well-defined substance; there's a reason why "I can't believe it's not butter" isn't called "better butter".

Furthermore margarine is associated with health risks that butter is not; clean is just disingenuous.


Fair enough, but margarine is not a good analogy to in-vitro meat. It's a substance that has very little molecular resemblance to butter. In-vitro meat, however, is meat. It's not a different substance -- it's just produced in a different way.


Yes, but margarine isn't butter, this lab grown meat is actually the same product. You're comparing a substitute, to a replacement.


It would probably be illegal to market a product that wasn't butter as "Clean Butter", because there are rules about labeling things as butter.

So I won't be surprised if the animal products industry lobbies for rules about what can be called meat (or if such rules already exist).

Of course such labeling concerns don't apply to an internet discussion, but they do indicate that people care about what's in a name.


Usually, though, lab-grown meat is actually meat. It's possible that it'd have to be labeled "synthetic" or "lab-grown" (similar to how synthetic diamonds are named), but claiming that meat is not meat is nonsensical.


Well what's the definition of meat?

A typical simple one is "animal flesh". Cells grown in a vat aren't flesh, they are a tissue culture.

Note that I'm not particularly animated by the issue, I just don't agree that it is as simple as "claiming that meat is not meat".


This seems like a particular definition of "flesh" that's not particularly germane to meatness. Lab meat is made of the exact same animal cells that regular meat is, the tissue just happens to never have inhabited an animal. When we eat meat, we don't value the fact that the cells we're eating were once part of an animal, we mostly value the taste.

It seems to me that this isn't a necessarily property of meat but a contingent one caused by the fact that meat used to only be possible to produce from animal flesh.


>When we eat meat, we don't value the fact that the cells we're eating were once part of an animal, we mostly value the taste

You'd be surprised. We even have different names and preferences for different age stages of the animal, different varieties of the animal (regional etc), etc.


Those distinctions exist because of the perceived impact on the tastes and textures of meat. Not because of anything such as ethical preferences to old/young animals.


I'm pretty sure it is not a particular definition.


Diamonds are pretty simple from a chemical point of view, atoms of Carbon linked together in a particular structure. You can't compare something as complex as creating animal meat with creating synthetic diamonds.


Absolutely -- some dairy producing states like Wisconsin have forced makers of soy and almond milk to stop calling them "milk" so I'm almost positive that meat producing states would do the same.


I'm always annoyed (admittedly only slightly) when they are referred to as milk. Nothing wrong with soy milk, but milk it is not.


FWIW I've seen medieval recipes containing almond milk (referred to as milk or equivalent period word), so calling such substances milk is not a newfangled idea.


> Of course such labeling concerns don't apply to an internet discussion, but they do indicate that people care about what's in a name.

Calling something clean meat, based purely on arbitrary ethical grounds, implies that what other people eat and call meat is somehow unclean. It is a value judgement on the others.


I assumed "clean" referred to the fact that lab-grown tissue would have a much lower risk of disease. Animals have digestive tracts full of bacteria, and farms aren't exactly pristine. Every year in the US, meat-borne pathogens kill thousands and sicken millions.[1]

1. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/5/5/99-0502_article


> I assumed "clean" referred to the fact that lab-grown tissue would have a much lower risk of disease. Animals have digestive tracts full of bacteria, and farms aren't exactly pristine. Every year in the US, meat-borne pathogens kill thousands and sicken millions.

OK, let's check the numbers.

According to the CDC https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/attribution/attribution-... from 1998 - 2008 from the total of foodborn illnesses 46% were linked to plant based, 22% to meat and poultry, 20% to dairy and eggs and 6% to fish products. From the total number of deaths 23% were linked to plant based products, 29% to meat and poultry (19% to poultry).

You can see a more detailed graphic here https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/attribution-image.html#f...


A couple of points:

1. The percentages you cite aren’t useful on their own, as one also needs to know how often each kind of food is consumed. Only then would we know the relative risk of eating each kind of food.

2. Most food plants are grown outdoors (often near livestock) and many aren’t cooked before eating. Cultured meat is grown in sterile environments and is typically cooked. These differences mean that it will almost certainly have a lower disease risk than any natural food.


So, I should accept your millions of sick people generality supported with a CDC link as a useful information. Why wouldn't you accept the cold hard numbers given by the same organization ?

> Cultured meat is grown in sterile environments and is typically cooked. These differences mean that it will almost certainly have a lower disease risk than any natural food.

Maybe, or maybe we'll discover in 10 years that eating lab grown meat gives you some form of cancer. Until it is used on a large scale for a number of years (as in decades) we have no idea what the effect of consuming lab grown meat has on ones health.


> Maybe, or maybe we'll discover in 10 years that eating lab grown meat gives you some form of cancer. Until it is used on a large scale for a number of years (as in decades) we have no idea what the effect of consuming lab grown meat has on ones health.

We can know it's safe without a long track record of use because of biology, chemistry, and physics. Cultured meat is the same muscle cells with the same DNA. If it caused cancer but animal meat didn't, that would tell us something new about biology, chemistry, and/or physics.

Your fear-mongering postulates unknown mechanisms of action that science would almost certainly have discovered by now. That's not just unscientific, it's anti-scientific. It's on the same level as, "What if cell phones cause cancer?" or "What if vaping is worse than smoking?"


When some folks wondered "how could you possibly persuade people to pay more for hydroponic vegetables?", my first thought was "get your vegetables, now with fewer bacterial brain cysts!" Vat meat vs incompletely cooked meat, is similar to hydroponic vs incompletely washed vegetables in this. I've no idea what the current state of research is on cysts vis autoimmune diseases.


The ethics might work, but the metabolization might not.


Calling meat grown in a lab clean meat is just a marketing gimmick that could potentially make people believe they eat natural grown meat.


It does confuse me, as a term. Pretty much every bit of meat that I eat was harvested and processed by myself or my neighbor. Given that we are going to be the folks eating it, it's pretty clean.

I clean my fish, deer, moose, beef critter, fowl, etc... I clean them very well. (They are delicious.)


>Pretty much every bit of meat that I eat was harvested and processed by myself or my neighbor

You do understand that you are the very definition of an outlier, right?

So it would OK if the term only confused you, since you are supposed to be confused, given that you do these things differently than 99.99% of the population.

But I think the term is confusing in general, not just to people who "kill and clean their own meat".


That's certainly true, but I suspect I'd have been just as confused even before I moved here. Today, I know my meat is pretty clean. Back then, I'd have assumed it was clean because it hadn't made me sick.


by clean they mean its not made from cows farting into the atmosphere


What about cold rice? By cold I mean it was grown in my lab, no fart was released in the process. Would you buy cold rice from me ?


This, crispr, and self driving cars are my favorite up and coming innovations that just seem mind boggling and that will make a profound impact in our lives. I think it is realistic to see widespread use of all 3 in the next decade.

The social media, apps, cloud, big data, and phone innovations have been neat but I'm looking forward to disruptions in non tech arenas. Space, electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars, so many fascinating things up and coming.


It's telling that space, electricity generation, crispr, self-driving cars, and this are thought of as 'non tech', but messaging apps and phones are.


If it makes you feel better, only on sites like HN would that ever be the case.


It seems that "tech" has come to be a colloquialism for "digital".


It is not that surprising given that the most apparent technological advance in our lifetime has been the internet.

I would be curious to see what "technology" was a colloquialism for different periods in time. My suspicion is that it would refer to the most impactful and visible innovations of that time.


Well, the word comes from the ancient Greek "τέχνη" (techne) which meant "craft" -- it basically meant creating things in the real world rather than "ἐπιστήμη" (episteme) which meant abstract knowledge, which is what philosophers were after.


But the epistomology of a word does not determine its meaning. Otherwise the art versus craft debate would be difficult to apply with its original meanings.


Wasn't agriculture the first technology?


I think “tech” is short for “information technology”, a term introduced almost six decades ago: https://hbr.org/1958/11/management-in-the-1980s


It's because none of those things are actually worth big bucks (yet). All the money is in ads (and the various baits constructed around those ads).

If and when the things you listed become wildly profitable, they'll become relevant for discussions about "careers in tech".


Where in the world did you get that obviously false notion?

CRISPR is bio-tech.

Self driving cars are overwhelmingly regarded as tech in every possible corner of the media universe. Apple, Google, Tesla, nVidia are among the frequent discussion points on self-driving, and it all ties in to AI which is another obvious tech subject.

There's a reason all of those topics are regularly discussed on HN.


I got that notion from the grandparent comment characterization of tech.


Don't forget super cheap solar


That they and their families will never eat.

This is just like when the British Parliament approved GMOs in the UK and on the same day officially forbid GMO foods from being served in the Parliament restaurant.

BTW I know the guy who was the head of the team who invented the GMO technology. He and his family and relatives only eat the cleanest, best quality ORGANIC food they can find.


ORGANIC is not same as NON-GMO


Why did the other comment down here get downvoted? Is there anything wrong with it?

He states fair points, as far as I can see.


Organic food? As opposed to what? Aluminium food?


I once explained to a bunch of 5th graders how landfills emit organic compounds into the air. When I asked them if they knew what Organic meant they said "it means it's healthy".


Beyond Meat gets name-checked in the article, but I want to emphasize that their burgers are pretty good: https://jakeseliger.com/2017/08/23/beyond-meat-burgers-are-p... and in my view underappreciated right now. If you've not tried them yet, you ought to.


I love how highly, highly processed foods are suddenly A-OK to many people here once it's a fake meat product. Whatever happened to the concept of, "Eat real food?"

Full Ingredient List:

>Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (soy), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

I shouldn't even have to post about "Textured Wheat Protein" but it's essentially another denatured protein, one that is completely doused in glyphosate right before harvest. That's the main ingredient of these "burgers."

Check out the chart on page two...

http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/ITX_2013_06_04_Seneff.pdf

These "vegan" foods are nowhere near healthy.

Then there's Soy Protein Isolate:

>But high-temperature processing has the unfortunate side effect of so denaturing the other proteins in soy that they are rendered largely ineffective.23 That's why animals on soy feed need lysine supplements for normal growth.

>Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying, and a toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing.24 Numerous artificial flavorings, particularly MSG, are added to soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein products to mask their strong "beany" taste and to impart the flavor of meat.25

>In feeding experiments, the use of SPI increased requirements for vitamins E, K, D, and B12 and created deficiency symptoms of calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, iron, and zinc.26 Phytic acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption; test animals fed SPI develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver.27

http://www.mercola.com/article/soy/avoid_soy.htm


Stephanie Seneff, you do know she's a huge quack?

As for protein isolates:

> That's why animals on soy feed need lysine supplements for normal growth.

No wonder eating a mono diet requires supplements. How can we expect protein isolates from a legume to be a super-powerful all in one food?

>Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying.

Cool thing to leave out that nitrites are used as preservatives and colorings in meat and consuming them without the added phytonutrients (available only in plants) removes the blocking effect and cancerous nitrosamines form.

Just check out google scholar for nitrosamines and meat. It's all over the place, hundreds of studies.

So, Stephanie Seneff is just scaremongering without sufficient evidence. Just like any food/ingredient demonization.

> Phytic acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption

"phytic acid cancer" on google scholar, good thing it blocks heme iron absorption, wouldn't like to over-absorb it and get cancer.

> test animals fed SPI develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver.

Just like feeding mice 20% calories from casein protein (in milk) gets them cancer, and you can turn it off and on by lowering/increasing the casein amount. should we now scaremonger and tell that milk should be avoided, maybe whey protein also because it's filled with casein?

Yeah, I'm pretty sure there are crazy people out there willing to eat just whey powder and soy protein isolate all day long. For the sane folks, it's probably safe.

You can list out all the negatives, leaving positives out and make a demonizing picture out of any food/ingredient.


If fake meats had come first and animal meats were just now coming to market, people would make similar arguments about health effects... and they'd be warranted. With animal meat, one has to worry about salmonella, e. coli, staph, and other pathogens. These food-borne pathogens kill about 5,000 Americans a year and make millions sick.[1] Also, cooking meat creates carcinogens.[2]

If fake meats were as dangerous as the real thing, they'd be illegal to sell. Concerns about the safety of these new foods are pure status-quo bias.

1. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/food...

2. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/d...


I think it's foolish to assume that some novel and highly processed food item is going to be safer than something which we've been eating for thousands of generations. Basing the conclusion of safety based on a piecemeal analysis of the components hand-waves away the entire complexity of digestion and metabolization.


> I think it's foolish to assume that some novel and highly processed food item is going to be safer than something which we've been eating for thousands of generations.

It's not that processed foods are particularly safe, but that meat is unsafe in a way we're accustomed to. Again: every year, meat-borne pathogens kill 5,000 Americans and cause illnesses in 1% of the population. Fake meats simply don't cause those rates of illness or death. If they did, the FDA would not allow them to be sold.


And coal plants kill far more people than nuclear ones. It's just not as obvious that they're the cause to those who are sick.

Who is to say that eating an equivalent amount of this fake meat product wouldn't cause a far greater number of deaths and reduction in quality adjusted years? It will be much harder to tell, because the problems aren't as obvious/acute, and there are always a huge number of confounding variables when it comes to nutrition.

Unless the problems it causes are acute, the FDA isn't going to have a very good way of comparing the safety of these with normal meat.


We don't know what properties this meat will have; we do know what causes regular meat to be harmful, and fake meat does not share several of those particular factors.


I think you are crazily optimistic about both the FDA and the ability to see any significant health effects from fake meat. Even my vegan friends have only been eating it for about a decade, and that doesn't strike me as enough time for e.g. discerning whether it is carcinogenic.

Among other things, sodium nitrate (included in the above description of fake meat) is, by itself, known to be more carcinogenic than red meat itself. But you don't see the FDA ensuring new foods don't use it.


Slaughterhouses and packaged meat are a pretty recent invention, certainly not one we’ve evolved with over thousands of generations. Is it really more natural to open a cellophane package of ground meat that comes from who knows how many animals?


What makes you think slaughter houses were needed? That just made things more "efficient". Humans and our ancestors have been eating meat since we have been a species.


Some of the things done in order to achieve efficiency has tangible consequences on the healthiness of the food. For instance cramming many animals in a very small space (e.g. in poultry farming) increases chances of contagious diseases developing. Industry is trying to compensate using antibiotics, but that has issues also.


It’s processing, which is what you were knocking meat alternatives for.


Just because human race survived thousands of years eating certain food does not mean that food is safe in today's standard.


Especially considering the fact that we will live up to three times as long as the average hunter-gatherer. Time matters when considering carcinogens and other long-term effects. National and international bodies providing food guidelines tend to advocate a reduction in red meat, sausage, etc. for good reasons.


With animal meat, one has to worry about salmonella, e. coli...

You have to worry about that with vegetables as well. Certainly here in Sweden the nr 1 source of food borne salmonella is spinach, arugula and similar leafy greens.


Cooking food can create carcinogens. A couple of years ago there was much fuss about a Swedish study about carcinogens in crisps (potato chips) – that's potato fried in vegetable oils, no meat involved.[1] (The fuss was mostly caused by not understanding the quantities involved.)

You can keep all of that aforementioned "meat" afaic.

[1] more on that for example here: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/acrylamide.html


This is just one part pseudoscience, one part nonsequitor. There's zero accepted nutritional scientific evidence that plant protein cannot completely adequately replace meat sources. Yes, of course someone who literally just eats soy burgers will experience some nutrient deficiency, but so would someone who just ate real burgers (plus the extra cholesterol and fats!). Millions of people completely replace meat with processed plant protein, with no evidence for any ill-effect. There is nothing inherently wrong with processing a food source, and to suggest such is nothing more than marketing quackery.

It is extremely frustrating gow you spread confusion and conflate concepts that have nothing to do with each other, with the end result being that all you accomplish is to spread propaganda about efforts that will literally save the planet from environmentally destructive, excessive meat production.


Are you not proposing someone disprove your negatives?


Is MSG considered an artificial flavoring? I was under the impression that it is both naturally occurring in biology and that its health problems are greatly over-exaggerated.

Nonetheless, point taken.


MSG's health problems are greatly over-exaggerated. Ever had Chinese food? Most asian dishes have a ton of MSG.


The funny thing is that the real health issue of MSG is rarely mentioned - it makes unhealthy food taste better. It is not surprising that we have evolved to appreciate the taste of protein. However when we add something that imparts a strong taste of protein while actually containing very little protein to food high in fat and carbohydrates then people may end up eating more of those.


"Natural flavoring" is not natural in any real sense of the word. It's like "fat free" labels on unhealthy food.


> " I shouldn't even have to post about "Textured Wheat Protein" but it's essentially another denatured protein, one that is completely doused in glyphosate right before harvest. That's the main ingredient of these "burgers.""

How are you certain about 'doused in glyphosate'?

It should be noted that making meat substitutes out of wheat protein is nothing new, and it's accessible to the home cook, not something that has to be done in a lab. If you don't believe me, look up recipes for homemade seitan.


> I love how highly, highly processed foods are suddenly A-OK to many people here once it's a fake meat product. Whatever happened to the concept of, "Eat real food?"

People do usually eat 'real food' when they eat meat products. That's the problem.


That's an ethical problem, which is orthogonal to the fact that this fake meat is basically a soy hot dog in terms of nutrition.


It is most certainly not 'orthogonal' to the question of whether eating it is 'A-OK', it is the entire point for most people.


Morally or nutritionally? These are two entirely different evaluations.


No, they are not, they are part of one evaluation. You only make one decision: to eat or not eat. When deciding whether it is 'A-OK' to choose the eat decision, both the moral and nutritional aspects are relevant. Either can justify it.

Danihan's criticism is wrong and projecting onto an imaginary strawman because he pretends that the only reason anyone could ever care about vat meat or fake meat is for the possible health benefits and accuses them of hypocrisy for endorsing processed foods in one case but not in hypothetical others - which is bizarre because that reason is literally not even in the laundry list of reasons in OP or other coverage (suggesting he didn't even read OP). Read through the article again, health is never mentioned, all the reasons are moral, environmental, or economic. I am perfectly willing to say that maybe vat meat or fake meat are not exactly as healthy as eating some tomatoes or something, but you know what, I really don't give a shit about minor issues or cherrypicked chemistry as I am far more concerned about whether it will soon be possible for me to continue eating tasty meat (possibly even for less cost) without killing hundreds of animals a year.


Maybe different people have different opinions on healthy nutrition?

No way. Everyone knows the field of nutrition has been considered settled for decades.


It's a bunch of normally inedible ingredients made to taste edible with fake flavoring and MSG. The last thing I need in my diet is even more misdirection in flavor profile telling my body what nutrients I need.


I'm sure it tastes just fine, but at something like $16/lb for a hamburger substitute that puts it on the same price level as prime grade ribeye or tenderloin.

It's really unfortunate all the meat "alternatives" take the organic/healthy but huge premium approach as this makes it very inaccessible to your standard consumer. Maybe for 6+ figure earning HNers it's not an issue but for the majority of the country it is.


Prime grade meat will stay that price or higher forever... manufactured protein will go down in price over time.


Sure costs will go down. But as far as price goes that's my point, it doesn't feel like they want it to go down.

It keeps being priced and pitched as a premium organic healthy food and not something everyone can afford.


I don't really understand this concern; this is a common strategy for introducing new products. When smartphones came out they were a premium product. Over time they became more accessible as the market grew beyond just the first adopters. They're arguably commoditized now, if we're thinking about super cheap Android phones.

Tesla is another example.

And economics should force price down, if the costs of manufactured protein decrease substantially.


It's not a fair analogy. Smartphones are still a premium product ($800 new). They were heavily subsidized by the mobile carriers which made them accessible. However, we are slowly seeing that subsidization eroding (fortunately now everyone is addicted).

I don't mean to be petty but it's not "economics" that drives prices down but rather competition. The thing about smartphones is while they all had dramatically different surface behavior, underneath they all shared very similar technological cores (Qualcomm processors, iOS/Android/Windows OS, etc...) and were able to utilize those same innovations.

Artificial meat on the other hand doesn't seem to be like that. Every product is unique and requires significant investment in R&D to make a reality.

They have been selling it for a long time now, it's not like this stuff is brand new. My only point was that we have not seen the effects you are describing happening yet which is worrisome. It feels like they are happy with product positioning at the moment.


The cat food smell when you cook them is for real. I noticed it independently, and it turns out plenty of people had already observed this. I wonder if this will hinder mass adoption -- it really did make my apartment smell strange! They tasted great though.


I've had a few of them, and the smell was the most noticeable difference from real beef.

At least in cooked form, the smell is more distinctly of beans, not cat food.


Veggie burgers? Word. Lab-grown meat? Hell no.


Thanks for your substantive comment.


How do you compare it against the Impossible Burger? I had a Beyond Burger at Veggie Grill and it didn't seem to be on par with the Impossible Burger.


As a counter point, the CEO of Impossible Burgers thinks that meat grown from cells is "stupidest idea ever" (http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/inventions/arti...).

And I kind of don't see how Memphis Meat can possibly compete with Impossible Burger (or other companies that can produce meat-like products from vegetables + industrial processing).

Today Memphis Meat costs "several thousand" per pound and generates literal pounds of meat. It's a pre-alpha prototype.

Impossible Burger's ground beef costs "comparable to organic beef" and are scaling production to a million pounds of meat per month. They've shipped and are increasing velocity.


As a counter-counter-point, I recently tried the Impossible burger, and while it's amazing, it's not remotely close to real meat. And that's in ground-beef-covered-with-cheese-and-sauce-and-toppings form. Impossible vs a great steak or some grilled salmon? No way.


As another anecdote - I agree. I recently tried it as well, and almost gagged at the taste. Not because it was disgusting (I finished it), but because I was so taken aback at the taste (kind of similar to when someone puts water in your Sprite can).

It's decent, but its nothing like real meat.


What a dumb idea to base one's argument regarding these things on price.

As a new tech it will cost a lot (like computers once did, now you can get one for $5), but the price will eventually go down.

Perhaps my generation won't enjoy fake meat like a real steak just because of the idea, but younger people won't mind.

Personally, I'll take anything that can stop killing all those animals to then throw away huge quantities (if unsold).


Well the Impossible CEO has a good point in that if we can grow tissues on demand in a reliable and efficient process the first use will not be for food but for healthcare. Why grow quarter pounders when you could save lives and grow organs?


The bar for something that roughly has the right muscle and fat blend for you to throw on a hot fire and eat is very different from the one that has to be biocompatible with a living being.

That being said, I do favor the Impossible Foods approach to this. My position is that non-animal products like Impossible Foods can incrementally replace low-to-mid end meat consumption while the high end will continue to be served by actual living animals.


Growing an organ means you need it to genetically match the person, have all the different tissues hooked up together correctly, and somehow grow it faster than normally happens. And you need that fast growth to turn off before you put it in someone.

Growing a vat of meat tissue just means you get a lot of cells to absorb nutrients and reproduce. It's likely multiple magnitudes easier.


The body is very picky about what kind of tissue it will accept as-its-own, entirely different level of quality required. Our digestive system is not at all as sensitive. We will probably get to lab-grown organs (it is actively researched), but creating artifical meat for eating is easier to do first.


Here's a point by point rebuttal of Pat Brown's comments I wrote: https://medium.com/@sethbannon/cleaning-the-record-on-clean-...


Lab grown meat is the industry I'd pick if I had to pick where the next rags to world's richest person will come from. Can it be scaled & beat conventional slaughter economically? I'm betting that it can. And it will disrupt a 100B+ annual industry.


> Can it be scaled & beat conventional slaughter economically? I'm betting that it can.

I'm really skeptical of this. Feels like a "multiple PhDs later..." kind of problem. Is there are a reason why you think the research won't hit any roadblocks? And even if it succeeds, there could be insurmountable marketing issues.

In the meantime, it's bad for vegetarianism. Meat eaters saying "why bother changing my diet, when lab grown meat will be here soon?"

We need to eat more plants. We need to travel fewer miles. We need to dump less potable water into the sea. We need to throw away less packaging and stuff. We can't always wait for the perfect 1:1 replacement eco-technology. We also need to figure out how to change our culture.

People all over the world learned how to survive just fine without without eating a half pound of flesh per day. Why are we clinging to these practices?


Lab grown meat seems more plausible to me than trying to talk people into become vegetarians. But if you do figure out how to change cultures you could sell that recipe for big money to lots of folks (eg. the U.S. military)


Agreed. But selling people great vegetarian food seems easier than both of those things.


I agree with the sentiment that we need to change, but I do not think it is going to happen - we will only collectively change when we are forced to.


I agree to some extent but selling physical products, let alone perishable products is an insane endeavor.


Tell that to farmers, grocers, restauranteurs, laboratories, chemists, and many many other industries. Those problems are real, and they need solving even if their profit margins are lower (which is not always true).


You assume the massively successful product would the lab grown meat itself.

It might be, but perhaps a bigger hit could be elsewhere: in licensing technology; support services; leasing lab equipment; consumable ingredients or something else entirely.


I think this is great. The current way food is produced in America (and other places) is not sustainable for either environmental or moral reasons. Take your pick.


It's great but if it really works, isn't there a concern about the existence of our beloved domestic animals?

All domestic cattle nowadays descends from the Auroch, which is extinct. The Auroch disappeared because we did not need it as it was. It was hunted down as tend to be all large animals that can not be domesticated.

If we don't need cows, pigs, sheep and whatnot, isn't there a risk they will fade away?

When we invented cars, the domestic horse kept existing because it still has recreational use. Is there a recreational use for cows?


People would still want to eat 'real' meat, I'd venture. It would probably be a luxury thing, like shark fin soup, is my guess.


Ever hear of deer? We eat them, too, and even domestic ag as well. They also aren't "needed" and even tend to cause environmental issues of their own in the wild in certain areas. As expected, they also are recreationally hunted and regulated as such in each state that has a reasonable population of deer.

So, in short, no, I don't think they'd go away or become extinct, not in the slightest. Declining numbers of them over time? Probably but extinct? No way.


they'll be fine. they'll simply continue to evolve without us.


If we leave them enough habitat. But why would we if we don't need them?


I believe that may have been a subtle natural selection joke.


it was sincere - they will be fine without us. Sure, long term some of them may go extinct - who knows? but that's evolution. As for habitat, yes that's a problem for them and for non-domesticated creatures, and for us (we need wild spaces too).


Highly processed food made in a lab has a big chance to have hidden side effects. I would not eat this until it is tested in the wild for a few years.


I think it's incredibly naive of people to assume that we can artificially replicate a food natural source. So much is unknown about the stomach microbiome and such things that I will be staying far away from this and the likes of Soylent for a long time.


I think it's safer, probably harder to get mad cow disease or salmonella, don't you think? Also, today we get it from animals pumped full of antibiotics, hormones living in their own excrement.


I guess it is a question of personal choice. I won't eat fake meat the same way as I don't eat highly processed food unless I'm forced to eat it.


Seems like a very close minded thing to do. Unless of course you're not eating meat at all. In which case I understand.


First if I eat meat or not is none of your business. I think it is judgemental to qualify a person that you potentially don't agree with as close minded. A close minded person is a person that can't accept that other people can have a different opinion.

An open society is a society that accepts diversity and doesn't try to shame people into conforming to a single way of thinking.


It’s stupid to say that it’s “close minded” for someone to come to a different conclusion about what level of processing is acceptable to them.


I think it's like gulping an aspirin instead of chewing on willow bark.


> I think it's safer, probably harder to get mad cow disease or salmonella, don't you think?

Not really, you have a good chance to get sick (I'm talking about foodborn disease) no matter what you eat. According to the CDC from 1998 - 2008 the percent of deaths/illnesses is about 46% - 54% between eating plants vs animal products https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/attribution-image.html#f...


Yeah, but that’s only true if you are buying shitty bargain-basement meat.


.. or any kind of processed food which contains "meat"


> or any kind of processed food which contains "meat"

Not really, you have a good chance to get sick (I'm talking about foodborn disease) no matter what you eat. According to the CDC from 1998 - 2008 the percent of deaths/illnesses is about 46% - 54% between eating plants vs animal products https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/attribution-image.html#f...


That's what they're doing


I do wonder though if this lab-grow meat will be allowed to be called meat, since there was a strange ruling about Vegan dairy products[0].

It seems that this is less likely to receive such a treatment, since it's much closer to the actual thing in terms of composition, but beyond Meat might be given a harder time there, since their product is plant-based...

[0] https://www.just-food.com/news/eu-court-of-justice-rules-aga...


A lot of investors are interested in Memphis Meat. From what I understand, people have been trying to grow meat in laboratories for decades. Does MM have some special technology?


Honestly, fakemeat products have become so good that I'm not longer interested. Their biggest failing is cost, and lab products aren't cheaper.


I still believe that feeding people would be much more efficient and healthier if we accept natural alternatives to meat like insects.


Will the plant protein meat ever trump the animal meat market? I believe that it will but it would take more than 10 years from now.

India could become a huge market for the plant protein meat.

Beyondmeat is one great example.



I am so sad that it won't be legal or at least profitable in Europe. People look for salt without GMO...


Actually, the first (IIRC) lab-grown burger was served 4 years ago in Maastricht, The Netherlands, by a company called Mosa Meat, back then already backed by Gates. A quick google finds https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/08/bill-gates-and-richa... on that investment, but I'm sure there's more. I think they got the price down a few hundreds per burger by now, still a way to go obviously, but there are many in-vitro research groups in Europe.


About bloody time. Excuse the pun


While I am a meat/fish-eater, I have not eaten store- purchased meat in decades and I will never eat lab-produced food. What a great way for innovative evil people to kill millions. Be careful what you wish for...very careful


Animal products are bad for you.




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