One-third of Americans are willing to eat lab-grown meat regularly

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2017-04-07

Are we on the cusp of the consumer biotech age, when lab-grown meat will be just as common as farmed meat? Recently, a company called Memphis Meats started selling in-vitro meat (IVM) that apparently tastes just like delicious chicken and duck. But if we want the price on an IVM burger to get below $1,000, we need consumers to buy lots of the stuff. That's why two Australian researchers from the University of Queensland decided to study what the US public currently thinks about eating IVM.

Psychologist Matti Wilks and veterinary scientist Clive Phillips surveyed 673 people via Mechanical Turk, asking a wide range of questions about their backgrounds and attitudes toward meat eating. What they found is that roughly two-thirds of their subjects would be willing to try IVM, and a third thought it might become a regular part of their diets. Wilks and Phillips suggest that this means people are open to eating IVM, but don't think it would replace farmed meat.

That said, none of these subjects had ever eaten IVM before. Given that 79 percent of them were concerned that IVM would lack flavor or aesthetic appeal, it's possible they might change their minds if it tasted exactly like farmed meat. Many people were also dissuaded by the idea of paying more for IVM than farmed meat. Presumably these subjects might become regular consumers if IVM were tasty and affordable.

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