DIY meal kit created for growing ‘human steaks’ – but it’s ‘not cannibalism’

Beef or lamb grown in laboratories is not yet available in the shops, but once the process passes a few final tests, regulators are expected approve lab-grown meat as "fit for human consumption" in the next few years.

But what comes next? How about human meat grown in labs?

A “DIY meal kit” for growing steaks made from your own body has recently been nominated as “design of the year” at London’s Design Museum.

“Growing yourself ensures that you and your loved ones always know the origin of your food, how it has been raised and that its cells were acquired ethically and consensually,” according to the website for Ouroboros Steak.

“People think that eating oneself is cannibalism, which technically this is not," Grace Knight, one of the designers of the bizarre product, told Dezeen magazine.

It’s important to stress that Grace, and her fellow designers Andrew Pelling and Orkan Telhan aren’t literally suggesting you culture your own cells into mini-steaks for a cannibal barbecue.

The creators of Ouroboros Steak– named after the mythical snake that eats its own tail – are trying to make a point about lab-grown meat. They say it’s not quite the cruelty-free alternative to traditional livestock farming that it’s made out to be.

They explain that blood taken from slaughtered calves is an essential ingredient in the meat-cloning process and that consumers shouldn’t be fooled into thinking lab-grown meat doesn’t involve killing animals.

Grace says: “As the lab-grown meat industry is developing rapidly, it is important to develop designs that expose some of its underlying constraints in order to see beyond the hype.”

The Ouroboros steaks used for the Design Museum exhibit are a special case though.

To make those, the artists bought human cells from the American Tissue Culture Collection and cultured them using donated blood that was out-of-date that would have otherwise have been destroyed.

“Expired human blood is a waste material in the medical system and is cheaper and more sustainable than FBS, but culturally less-accepted,” Grace explained.

The final product was encased in resin, and was put on display as part of the Design Museum’s Designs For Different Futures exhibition.

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