How test-tube meat may be the future of food

The production is increasing despite the public

Modern Meadow is a young company that is developing lab-engineered meat and leather products.

(CNN) - In a nondescript hotel ballroom last month at the South by Southwest Interactive festival, Andras Forgacs offered a rare glimpse at the sci-fi future of food.

Before an audience of tech-industry types, Forgacs produced a plate of small pink wafers, "steak chips," he called them, and invited people up for a taste. But these were no ordinary snacks: Instead of being harvested from a steer, they had been grown in a laboratory from tiny samples of animal tissue.

One taster's verdict on this Frankenmeat? Not bad, actually.

"It was delicious. It tasted like a thin piece of beef jerky," said Michael Wang, a program manager in Washington. "I would have never thought it wasn't real meat."

Forgacs is co-founder and CEO of Modern Meadow, a young company that is developing lab-engineered meat and leather products, also known as "cultured," "in vitro" or "test-tube" meat. He is among a new breed of youthful entrepreneurs who are applying tech-startup principles, innovation, efficiency, data-driven processes, to address the growing challenges of global food production.

For those reasons, these biotech food entrepreneurs may face an uphill climb.

To an eating public increasingly focused on organic, farm-to-table food, cultured meat sounds unnatural and unappealing. A recent Pew survey found that 80% of Americans would not eat meat that was grown in a lab.

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