The world's first lab-grown burger was unveiled in London on Monday, but it didn't meet with glowing reviews as a critic deemed it a little dry. Also revealed: Google co-founder Sergey Brin is one of the project's backers.
The lab-grown burger is hailed by some as an important step toward harnessing technology to find a sustainable way to feed a rapidly growing planet. Still, it has plenty of critics, including those who say it's a waste of time and resources as it's unlikely the masses will ever adopt lab-grown burgers.
Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands told BBC News that the world's first lab-grown burger began with stem cells taken from cows and then multiplied in a lab setting into strips of muscle. That in turn was used to compose the hamburger patties, which were served up Monday to two food critics, including Hanni Ruetzler.
After some cutting -- the patty seemed a bit tough -- as well as sniffing and chewing, Ruetzler said: "There is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy."
Meanwhile, Brin acknowledged that he is financially backing the project that so far has cost upwards of $300,000. He explained in a video that "Sometimes a new technology comes along and it has the capability to transform how we view our world."
The demand for meat will double by 2050, worsening the toll on the environment. Brin said there are three options, the first two being to become vegetarians or ignore the problem. "The third option is we do something new," he said.
Burgers made in this fashion are extremely lean and naturally pale in color. Not exactly what we think of when we think "burger." As a result, beet dye was used to add a reddish hue to the meat and it was cooked in butter.
As for the ick factor of it all, Brin suggested that it's far less icky than the alternative that we live with everyday. "When you see how these cows are treated" -- to provide the everyday meat found in supermarkets -- "that's something I'm not comfortable with," he said.