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Grow Cultured Meat In A 'Carnery'

Vladimir Mironov wants to bring bioengineered "cultured" meat to America's dinner tables. A developmental biologist and tissue engineer at the Medical University of South Carolina, Dr. Mironov uses the analogy of cultured milk products to reduce what he calls the "yuck factor" when trying to convince people that bioengineered meat is a good idea.

The analogy to products like yogurt is a good one, from a historical point of view. In the 1960's, yogurt was very much a "fringe" kind of food, as far as popularity was concerned; you had to go to a specialty store to get it. Today, it's completely mainstream.

"There's a yuck factor when people find out meat is grown in a lab. They don't like to associate technology with food," said Nicholas Genovese, 32, a visiting scholar in cancer cell biology working under a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals three-year grant to run Dr. Mironov's meat-growing lab.

"But there are a lot of products that we eat today that are considered natural that are produced in a similar manner," Genovese said.

"There's yogurt, which is cultured yeast. You have wine production and beer production. These were not produced in laboratories. Society has accepted these products."

If wine is produced in winery, beer in a brewery and bread in a bakery, where are you going to grow cultured meat?

In a "carnery," if Mironov has his way. That is the name he has given future production facilities.

He envisions football field-sized buildings filled with large bioreactors, or bioreactors the size of a coffee machine in grocery stores, to manufacture what he calls "charlem" -- "Charleston engineered meat."

"It will be functional, natural, designed food," Mironov said. "How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture.

I'm particularly pleased with Dr. Mironov's names for these ideas; science fiction writers have been working hard on this idea for more than fifty years, and have some interesting names as well. Find out more by clicking these tasty links:

"Chicken Little from Pohl and Kornbluth's novel The Space Merchants [1952].

"Carniculture from H. Beam Piper's Four-Day Planet [1961].

"Pseudoflesh from Frank Herbert's Whipping Star [1969].

"Vat-Grown Meat from William Gibson's Neuromancer [1984].

"Food brick* from Larry Niven's Ringworld [1970] (*they came in liver - raw liver - for kzinti).

"ChickieNobs from Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake [2003].

From Yahoo News (with a hat-tip to @nyrath and Fred Kiesche).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/1/2011)

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