Meat and livestock consumption has recently come under the spotlight, as a major greenhouse gas emitter and cause of deforestation.
Some believe the answer to this and the animal welfare problems associated with livestock lies with in vitro meat.
In vitro meat is produced using a cell culture, rather than from an animal. After the cells have multiplied, they are attached to a sponge-like "scaffold", soaked with nutrients and mechanically stretched to increase size and protein content. The resulting cells can then be harvested, seasoned, cooked, and consumed as boneless, processed meat, such as sausage, hamburger, or chicken nuggets.
Proponents claim this could be healthier, safer, less polluting and more humane than conventional meat. The fat content and food borne diseases could be kept under control, and waste reduced. Producing meat in vitro might also be more efficient than conventional meat in its use of energy, land, and water too.
But in vitro meat may not be the silver bullet that provides the world with guilt-free protein. Trade-offs and ethical considerations relating to the environment, animal welfare and human rights would have to be carefully examined before this new technology found its way to the supermarket shelves.