The organization New Harvest acts as a hub connecting researchers and other interested parties, and encouraging discussions of cultured meat. We're in what Disney would call the "Imagineering" stage, in other words, and some of Silicon Valley's biggest investors are starting to contribute to the cause. If true prediction is beyond our powers, a few things do seem certain, and we can clear up a few misconceptions about cultured meat now:
- Cultured meat is not going to appear on your supermarket shelves
in 2014. Or in 2015. While no prediction is reliable, the most wildly
optimistic promoters of the technology don't think it will reach markets
for another ten years. Twenty seems more likely.
- Cultured meat is animal flesh based on real animal cells, not fully synthetic or based on vegetable protein (but vegetable meat substitutes
are also reaching new and impressive levels of development) The process
by which cultured meat is made, is somewhat complex (you can watch a
cartoon, produced for Mark Post's group, here).
- While no animals need to be killed to harvest the cells used for cultured meat, current techniques also employ serum taken from fetal animals - truly kill-free meat would be possible if scientists devised a substitute, and some think that this is possible.