Google Inc (GOOG), Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM): Would You Eat Lab-Grown Meat? Maybe You Should.

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Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin used his big bank account to help develop an odd but possibly practical food innovation. This technique skips agriculture altogether and uses a lab and test tubes to whip up a synthetic burger. Whether people could respond to it is a whole other matter.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)

Brin, whose donation was long anonymous, shelled out $330,000 of his own money to make sure development of the synthetic burger continued.

Although this concept sounds disgusting to many people, Brin hasn’t been put off. He didn’t provide funding out of sheer scientific curiosity, either. He cites a litany of reasons he thinks this is an avenue to pursue. These include future economic viability, environmental sustainability, and plain animal welfare.

When you think of the scale of the modern human diet, raising animals for food is extremely resource intensive and tough on the environment. Between growing crops for feed, the use of land resources, and the production of methane gas from the animals themselves, it’s arguable that the current situation is hurtful and may even be impossible to sustain in the future.

How did this burger skip the slaughterhouse and even the cow? Scientists used organic cows’ stem cells to “grow” the meat without offing the animals. It took three months to grow the materials needed for an entire patty . Such meat won’t contain food-borne diseases like e. coli and don’t contain antibiotics.

The more pleasant-sounding term term “cultured-burger” sounds like it could make it in outlets like Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM), but think it through and maybe not. While Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) has aggressively pursued animal welfare standards at its meat counters, whether a fake burger would make the cut is a whole other story.

Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) recently made the impressive vow to require all of its suppliers to disclose if their products contain genetically modified organisms and has long supported GMO labeling. Years ago, when the idea of cloned meat was being batted around, it vowed it wouldn’t carry it.

Today’s lab-grown freak patty has also been called “Frankenburger,” and for that reason alone the public might immediately think about weird science and the types of unintended consequences Mary Shelley warned about long ago.

The backlash against companies such as Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) and E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD) is a case in point. These are two companies that are currently in the business of modifying crops with foreign genes. Many environmentalists, consumer groups, and members of the public are concerned about the health and safety of these crops.

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