Describing the make-up of your average hamburger as an “environmental train wreck”, the co-founder of a Columbia, Missouri-based start-up named 'Modern Meadow' is thinking big when it comes to finding an alternative to meat. Now, the ambitious pitch to create edible, environmentally-friendly bio-printed steak, burgers and other meat products is one step closer to being realised after a grant from the Thiel Foundation.
It sounds distinctly like something from the pages of science fiction – in fact, Star Trek is just one of myriad of examples of sci-fi approaching the concept of synthetic meaty products, with an original Trek episode fearugin 'Synthetic Meatloaf' – executive director of Breakout Labs, a project of the Thiel Foundation, Lindy Fishburne explains; “Modern Meadow is combining regenerative medicine with 3D printing to imagine an economic and compassionate solution to a global problem. [And] we hope our support will help propel them through the early stage of their development, so they can turn their inspired vision in to reality.”
Your barbecue will have to wait for its first batch of bio-printed hamburgers for now, however. The 3D printing of meat is still in its very early stages and, ultimately, too high-cost to be considered to a true alternative to the animal-sourced real deal. First up, Modern Meadow is anticipating creating an 'edible prototype' around one inch long in order to “demonstrate that bio-printing-based in vitro meat production is feasible, economically viable and environmentally practical.” Now, who's for bio-printed steak!?