Artificial Meat Technology
Synthetic meat (or “cultured meat,” “clean meat”) is a name given to meat produced under laboratory conditions using bioengineering technologies.
In recent years, especially plant-based eating habits have become very popular. As a result, documentaries reflecting the harms of animal foods, especially meat, attract significant attention. In many documentaries, meat products are produced in unhealthy environments. In addition, the fact that most of the meat products are processed reduces their nutritional value. Many studies have found that meat products trigger many chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Scientists researching this subject produced synthetic meat in the laboratory many years ago. Produced synthetic meat can correct the deteriorated balance of the environment and solve global hunger. So what is artificial meat, and how is it made?
Synthetic meat production is broadly divided into:
- Cellular Production
Cellular production is the direct use of meat stem cells to create meat. Muscle stem cells taken from animals are placed in nutrient serum and allowed to form fibers and muscles as we know them. Since the muscle cells produced by the stem cells will also divide, the total number of cells constantly doubles; it increases exponentially. Since cells are not attached to a body, a scaffold is used to function as the body. In this way, just like in an animal body, the staging nourishes, stretches, and shapes the developing cells.
The development of scaffolding technology is critical for the production of synthetic meat, as it will be much more difficult to incorporate complex structures such as arteries and veins.
- Acellular Production (or Fermentation)
For acellular production, the genes that produce proteins such as the “heme” protein found in the blood are transferred to the bacteria, and these proteins are obtained from the bacteria. Acellular production may be seen as alarming by those who are not sympathetic to genetically modified organisms or genetic engineering methods since it contains an external species and interacts with its genes; however, this method is almost the same as the production of the insulin hormone, which we mass produce. Today, nearly all insulin injections are produced by genetically modified bacteria that do not have this feature. By transferring the gene responsible for insulin production in humans to bacteria, scientists can pay insulin thousands of times more rapidly than the old methods. There is not much difference when bacteria produce the proteins in the meat, so there seems to be nothing to worry about. The acellular production method is generally added to vegetable meats’ animal flavor and nutrition.
Many entrepreneurial companies and research groups prefer cellular production for now. This is because it is easier to determine the ratios of nutritional values such as fat and protein to be included in the meat. In addition, people who taste meat produced in this way think that meat produced by this method “tastes pure and natural,” So this method is more popular.
Another reason why cellular production is preferred is that methods such as bioreactors can be used for the multiplication and diversification of stem cells. Bioreactors are used in the business’s more industrial and mass production direction. Circulating air and food and providing movement creates cells’ more lively proliferation environment.
On the other hand, the costs and costs of establishing the facilities where these synthetic meats are produced need to be considered. However, even if this is not enough to put artificial beef at a disadvantage against traditional beef, it may somewhat reduce its expected impact.