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US Agriculture Department Approves Sale of ‘lab-grown’ Chicken Meat

Diners in US restaurants will soon be able to order chicken made without killing animals.

Key points:

  • The artificially-grown meat will be available in restaurants but not shops
  • The cells are grown in steel tanks and “fed” a diet of nutrients
  • Advocates say it’s a “giant step forward” to a sustainable future

The US Agriculture Department has issued approval to California-based firms Upside Foods and Good Meat to sell the meat, labelled as “lab-grown” or “cell-cultivated”.

The companies say the products will be available at select restaurants, and eventually supermarkets.

The US is the second country in the world to approve the selling of lab-grown chicken, following Singapore.

Lab-grown meat ‘preserves choice and life’

Upside’s CEO and founder Uma Valeti said the approval would “fundamentally change how meat makes it to our table.”

“It’s a giant step forward towards a more sustainable future — one that preserves choice and life,” she said.

The chicken is reportedly grown in steel tanks, using cells that come from a living animal, a fertilised egg or a bank of stored cells.

The cells are fed nutrients similar to what animals would eat.

After several weeks, the resulting product is “harvested” from the tank and moulded into shapes, such as a chicken fillet.

Producing the meat in large, high-quality volumes is expensive, but some companies have set their sights on pet food, where consumers are less picky.

Environmental benefits questioned

While lab-grown meat has been billed as an environmentally-friendly alternative, researchers from the University of California questioned this assumption in a study out last month.

They found the environmental impact of cultivated meat was likely to be “orders of magnitude” higher than that produced by traditional farming methods, at least with beef.

The researchers said this was due to the energy required and greenhouse gasses emitted during production.

The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Source: ABC News