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Petri Dish Beef: It's What's For Dinner

A 21ST CENTURY American cowboy will resemble a worker in a hi-tech plant creating artificial meat in a petri dish, a far cry from cattle ranches, says biologist Vladimir Mironov. The growth of 'cultured' or in-vitro meat may be a vital step towards solving the global food crisis and fighting hunger in the future, Mr Mironov believes. It may also be used on the first trip to Mars where it's impractical to bring a cow on a six-month mission on a space shuttle. 'Think about planetary settlement, for example, or growing density of population,' Mironov said. 'There is already no land to grow crops in New York or Singapore.' But the 56-year-old Mr Mironov, along with fellow researcher, 32-year-old Nicholas Genovese, face many challenges in their small cutting-edge laboratory at a Medical University of South Carolina science building. The amount of meat now grown in a laboratory is one problem. T-bone steaks don't grow on trees or overnight under a microscope. But Mr Mironov says creating a steak is not far from becoming reality. 'It is a function of time. It is a function of money,' Mr Mironov said. -- AFP

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