The financial supporter of the world’s first lab-grown hamburger has been revealed as Google co-founder Sergey Brin. To date, he has backed the project with $325k. Brin’s financial support of the project has allowed scientists to grow enough meat in a laboratory to create a proof-of-concept burger that was cooked and eaten in London on Monday.
Brin’s objective was to create meat that is biologically identical to beef but grown in a lab rather than in a field as part of a cow.
Inspired by the harsh conditions endured by animals farmed for food, Brin said he wanted to invest in technology that allowed people the benefits and sustenance of food without the animal welfare or ecological issues behind it. Brin believes people have an idealized vision of modern meat production and envision idyllic farms with just a few animals in them.
Cows need 100g of vegetable protein to produce only 15g of edible animal protein. The cows end up consuming a tremendous amount of food in order to become food themselves. It’s inefficient, and the energy expended does not equal or surpass the end result. Cultured meat, however, is far more efficient because all variables are under control.
Under Brin’s direction, physiologist Dr Mark Post at Maastricht University grew 20,000 muscle fibers from cow stem cells over the course of three months. Then, the fibers were extracted from individual culture wells and then pressed together to form a hamburger.