Yule Ham From The Local Bioreactor?

The centerpiece of most Scandinavians' julbord (Christmas table) celebrations is the ham, including (some) poor pig's lavishly frosted head. Organic and local ham is getting more popular but unfortunately, the climactic effects of our ever-growing global meat production are hard to avoid, quite apart from the negative effects of large-scale factory farms. So while in vitro meat seems bizarre, and many might prefer the vegetarian path or some middle road, bioengineered meat may have theoretical merits. Immature stem cells are bathed in special amino acid solutions or mechanically stimulated to induce them to grow inside a bioreactor, and a molecular process encourages the cells to stick together. Read here to learn more about the Dutch scientists that are forerunners.

Now researchers with the In Vitro Meat Consortium (IVMC), formed this summer in Norway, say many of the techno-hurdles have been cleared. While they don't believe in vitro meat will totally replace the real thing, they do believe that in a generation or two in vitro meat will become commonplace for everyday eating. Instead of producing methane gas as a byproduct - as animal husbandry invariably does - in vitro meat researchers expect to use methane to make nourishing liquids needed to multiply a small amount of animal cells into edible product. IVMC says, however, that their attempt at in vitro meat may not come to pass - the consortium is currently doing a cost analysis to see if it can possible be produced cost-effectively, and will meet in April to discuss results. If there's a green light (and investments funds) first meat products are still be a few years out and would probably consist of a ground meat-type product - but the IVMC predicts muscle meats such as Christmas hams will be made in local bioreactors (if the price can be right) by around 2020. Via ::Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish)