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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Would you eat a 3D-printed burger?

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Cheeseburger image by the National Cancer Institute, public domain)

We can already use a process called bioprinting to create organic tissue — now, a start-up is applying the process to making artificial meat.

If we can have 3D-printed organs for medical purposes, why not a 3D-printed burger?

Would you eat a 3D-printed burger?

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A company called Modern Meadow in the US is trialling just that. According to its website, there are numerous problems with meat production: the greenhouse gases created by livestock, the land and resources required, the wastage in meat production and the increasing population. By 2050, Modern Meadow asserts, 70 per cent more meat will be required to feed the world.

To address these issues, the company is using a process called bioprinting to experiment with lab-created meat.

Using live stem cells taken from animals, Modern Meadow creates a substance it calls "bioink" (it's a portmanteau of "bio" and "ink", but we initially read an "oink" in there). These living cells are then printed into agarose moulds.

After a few days, the bioink has fused enough to hold a shape; this living piece of tissue can then be placed into a bioreactor, where muscle growth is stimulated using a low-frequency current.

Eventually, the tissue will be killed off so it can be used as meat.

At the moment, it's a pretty expensive process — but one that Modern Meadow hopes will revolutionise food production in the years ahead. According to its website, the benefits of bio-engineering meat include:

  • 99 per cent less land required

  • 96 per cent less water consumed

  • 96 per cent fewer greenhouse gases emitted

  • 45 per cent less energy needed

  • No risk of livestock diseases

  • No animals harmed.

Sounds much more animal and environmentally friendly than the spherical cow.


Add Your Comment 12

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AlexanderB posted a comment   

How about we just start eating less meat so we can do more with what we currently have?


navyseal2100 posted a comment   
United States

Does it come in Green?


ZachM posted a comment   

Mcdonald's will be pleased.


BrandonK posted a comment   

My question is what would the nutritional content be like? Since nutritional value and taste is generally linked to the animal's diet... another question would be why can't we get away from this focus on meat and back to vegetables?


Dunners posted a comment   

You might actually go to maccas and get a burger that looks like the picture


IsaacH1 posted a comment   

Reason # 738,482,858,029,151,403,504 why science is AWESOME!


RobS posted a comment   

I'd be interested in trying it. What about fat? You could, I guess, control fat content since folks want lower fat, but it's also necessary for a good, juicy burger. I suppose this would impact beef prices as well. The cattlemen will not be pleased.


MilesD posted a comment   

Once again Spongebob Squarepants accurately predicts the future.


SeanM4 posted a reply   

i think you mean the jetsons

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