Turkey might be the staple of a traditional Christmas dinner, but scientists are trying to turn it into the stuff of science fiction.
In a bid to reduce the negative impact of large-scale farm agriculture on the environment, scientists in the USA have been experimenting with growing test-tube-turkey.
Now, they are predicting that the first turkey grown in a laboratory will grace our dinner tables as soon as 2030.
Paul Mozdziak, professor of poultry science at the North Carolina State University, is ‘confident’ that in the future the bird will be grown in 5000-gallon drums using ‘cellular agriculture’.
The scientific process works by taking a small piece of turkey breast from the turkey, by biopsy, and isolating special stem cells, which grow muscle fibre.
Those cells are then placed into a mixture of sugar and amino acids in a flask, which trick the cells into thinking they are still inside the turkey and need to continue dividing.
A single cell could in theory produce enough muscle to make 20 trillion turkey nuggets, if given three months to grow.
Although scientists have the technology to create the meat, it is not economically viable at present. The cost per bird is currently about $34,000, a drop from the cost of the first hamburger made in 2013 at £220,000.
But Mozdziak believes that the days of supermarket value laboratory meant are on the horizon: “Years from now, when people are in the grocery story trying to decide if they want to buy traditional versus cultivated meat, I am 100% sure that culture meat is going to be just as cheap, if not cheaper.”
The technology, known as in vitro meat cultivation, has drawn a following of environmentalists and activists who think this is the future for carnivores.