Meat without slaughter of cows and pigs

Steak from the printer
Meat without slaughter of cows and pigs

Do you eat meat without killing animals? Petra Kluger wants to achieve this with her team at the University of Reutlingen. Experts grow artificial meat from animal cells isolated in the laboratory.

Jannis Wollschlaeger goes to the butcher twice a week at 6 am, immediately after the massacre. On Mondays he is interested in beef, on Thursdays in pork. “I can still get warm,” says the doctoral student of the University of Reutlingen, Faculty of Applied Chemistry.

The 27-year-old rushes to the lab, where he meticulously chops lean muscle meat to 37 degrees, supplies it with nutrients, and places it in a container in the incubator. The goal: to multiply adult stem cells to raise meat. At the end of the complicated process, a 3D printer helps to print a “mini steak”. The product is edible, but it doesn’t taste good, says Wollschlaeger.

According to Petra Kluger, head and project manager of Wollschlaeger, there is still a long way to go before the product is truly edible. “Thanks to the research on the subject, in a few years it will be conceivable side dishes or fillings for ravioli and gnocchi with artificial meat”.

Cultured meat helps people get enough food, but it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves water and land. “It’s safe to say that animal suffering could be drastically reduced in this way,” says Kluger, Vice President Research at the University of Reutlingen.

Not on the agenda in Germany

From their point of view, the 3D printer meat has a lot of potential. The idea isn’t new, but not enough research is being done in this country, says Kluger. “The topic is not on the agenda in Germany. We have lost so many technologies, but we could still move on to this one. “

In 2013, Mark Post and his team from the University of Maastricht unveiled the first in vitro hamburger based on bovine stem cells. In January 2016, the US start-up Memphis Meats presented the first in vitro meatball.

While in vitro meat production is possible, there is still no method for large-scale in vitro meat production, according to a study by the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. This is mainly due to the fact that the components of an in vitro meat production process have yet to be researched further.

At the forefront the United States, the Netherlands, Japan and Israel. These are mainly research projects at universities, non-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or start-ups financed by NGOs and investors who want to further develop in vitro meat and bring it to market.

plant-based diet

From the point of view of the Federation for Environmental Protection and Nature Conservation (BUND), it is not appropriate to simply solve the problems of industrial farming by another method. “We have to get to the root of the problem: our excessive consumption of meat. Compared to plant production, laboratory meat performs significantly worse in terms of energy requirements and resources, “said Martin Bachhofer, chief executive of the state.

Today it is easier than ever to follow a healthy diet that is mainly or exclusively plant-based. However, this is not a call for the complete abolition of farming. “It depends on the manner and the scale: in the future we will still need ‘real’ animals to graze and thus preserve species-rich habitats in the meadows. This grassland is also important as a CO2 reservoir for climate protection,” he said. Bachhofer.

Funding for research is scarce

A joint project between the University of Reutlingen and the University of Hohenheim is funded by the Swiss Avina Foundation. Study ways to advance production on an industrial scale.

According to Kluger, the funds are scarce. “I don’t understand why there is so little funding for this topic. We are at the very beginning of a new technology that does not want to destroy agriculture, but rather offer a complementary alternative, because there are more and more people in the world, “says Kluger.

forage and grain

More than half of the vegetarian products produced in the world are fed to animals. If these two countries have ceased to be grain producers due to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the question arises whether it is ethically justifiable to feed animals with scarce grain.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), only 35 African countries import wheat and other things from Russia or Ukraine. Experts warn that the war in Ukraine will permanently raise the price of raw materials such as gas, oil and wheat.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220419-99-962410 / 4


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