LONDON, United Kingdom – On August 5th, the world’s first test tube burger was tasted in London. Developed in a lab at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, the test tube burger represents a new mastery that humans possess over the food that they consume. But what does creating test tube beef mean for the fight against global hunger?
The first ever test tube burger weighed roughly five ounces and cost more than $330,000 and five years of research to produce. Scientists were able to make the meat by extracting a sample of muscle from a living cow and separating it into individual muscle fibers for further processing. Individual muscle cells were then cultured from the muscle fiber for cell multiplication. A single cell can create over one trillion other muscle cells, which naturally merge and eventually grow into muscle tissue. The muscle’s natural tendency to contract causes it to bulk up, resulting in more than a trillion strands of muscle tissue created from the single cell which was originally isolated from the sample tissue. The strands of muscle tissue that are created from the process are the same as what is found in cows and the conventional hamburger.
Some see the creation of the test tube burger as a potential food source that could help fight global hunger. Beef grown in the lab takes significantly fewer agricultural resources to develop than conventional beef. In a world where “70 percent of all our agricultural capacity [is used]to grow meat through livestock,” some believe that test tube meat will help increase the production of food and help end world hunger.
However, critics of this position point out that “we already grow enough food to feed the world.” Although presently an adequate supply of food is produced to feed everyone on the planet, food waste and challenges in transporting food items to where they are needed most are responsible for leaving many across the globe hungry. The current challenge is not producing more food to feed the global population, but to ensure that the food that is already produced can be accessible to everyone.
It is not known how receptive the general population will be to eating test tube beef or if its cultivation will help end world hunger. What is known, however, is that the development of the test tube burger has brought about a larger discussion over the present and future challenges of feeding the world’s population. While hunger is still an issue that nearly one in seven people across the globe face, the prevalence of global hunger has decreased significantly over the past years. It is developments like the test tube burger that are to thank for having brought about awareness of global hunger and have challenged people to take action towards reducing its prevalence throughout the globe.
– Jordan Kline