MAASTRICHT, The Netherlands -- Scientists are on the verge of growing artificial meat in laboratories without the need for animal slaughter, according to a report cited Thursday by The Herald Sun -- with one expert predicting a stem cell sausage might be just six months away.
Researchers say the advent of "pain-free" meat produced from stem cells could save millions of animals from the abattoir and help the environment through substantially reduced energy, land and water use.
Dutch researcher Dr. Mark Post, of Maastricht University, predicts the first synthetic sausage could be just six months away.
"I'm hopeful we can have a hamburger in a year," he told New Scientist.
But a major stumbling block will be turning cultured meat into a tasty, textured and nutritious option that could make mouths water in supermarkets and restaurants. The time and cost involved are also major hurdles.
Post said the meat -- pig cells fed with horse fetal serum -- he had grown did not look appetizing because it was white.
"It's white because there's no blood in it, and very little myoglobin, the iron-bearing protein," he said. "We are looking at ways to build up the myoglobin content to give it color."
Farmers do not feel threatened by the new technology, according to the Herald Sun. A Cattle Council of Australia spokesman said the development would not threaten farmers given the difficulty in creating a protein-rich substance, and the sheer amount that would need to be produced.