PayPal Co-Founder Invests In 3D-Bioprinted Meat

by Mandy Adwell on 08/27/2012

in Business,Technology

Steak

Peter Thiel, billionaire tech investor, entrepreneur, and co-founder of PayPal, is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Modern Meadow, a Missouri-based company that aims to make 3D-printed meat. Yes, that sounds pretty bizarre – but considering Thiel has invested money in Paypal and Facebook, two companies that are now worth billions, it’s possible that this company and its products could become successful.

The company specializes in lab-grown steaks, an animal-friendly and sustainable alternative to steak from a cow. The goal is to produce a delicious tasting, guilt-free meat product through 3D bioprinting, which layers various mixtures of cells in a very specific structure. This sounds like something out of a 1980s weird science movie, but Modern Meadow is already working toward a goal of printing a few small cuts of the meat, which will be less than a millimeter thick and about two centimeters by one centimeter in size.

If you’re a vegetarian and really miss the flavor of meat, this may be your chance to grub on a steak without dealing with the guilt or unhealthy side effects. Aside from that, there are also plenty of environmental benefits associated with this. In the words of Modern Meadow co-founder Andras Forgacs, the amount of resources used just to make a simple hamburger creates an “environmental train wreck.” These 3D-printed steaks would lessen the intensity of the effects of conventionally raised cattle such as methane gas, excessive land use, and food grown for feed.

They’re certainly onto something that could be very beneficial health and environment-wise, but I’m still not sure how I feel about eating lab-grown meat that comes from a printer. I’m sure I’d try it out of pure curiosity. Would you?

Image CC licensed by tarale Steak (not lab-grown)

  • Michael Birks

    For myself, so long as it passes a blind taste test, I’m not bothered by the idea.

    OTOH, it has the potential to trigger every single hot-button the ‘natural foods’ crowd has. A good streak, with all its down points at least has the virtue of coming from a live animal. But this ‘bioprinted meat’? It’s made in a laboratory, by (gasp) Scientists, using (shudder) Chemicals!

    Mass adoption would have to follow pretty much the same road as GE foodstuffs, with probably even more emphasis in the ‘franken’ in the food.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Yes, no doubt there will be opposition to it. However, from animal welfare activists and some environmentalists, not so much. Aside from being “lab grown”, there should be quite a few environmental benefits, such as not using much needed farmland and copious amounts of fresh water to produce meat.

    Also, PETA is all for it. They’ve even put forward a $1 million prize for the first commercially viable lab-grown meat (has to be beef I think) that passes a blind taste test.

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