Don’t expect an artificial chicken in every pot anytime soon. Since 2008, the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered $1 million to anyone able to create a commercially viable artificial meat from growing chicken cells. But although scientists are making progress toward artificial hamburgers, even a 2-year extension from the original deadline of 2012 wasn’t enough to lure applicants for PETA’s prize. With the award’s latest deadline expiring tomorrow, ScienceInsider asked the group about its plans and PETA President Ingrid Newkirk released the following statement:
“Herbert Hoover's ‘chicken in every pot’ was the impetus for PETA's extension of its $1 million prize for the first scientist to put an in vitro chicken in every pot or at least in your local supermarket. Since announcing the prize, laboratory work on in vitro meat has come a long way, but it looks as if the first commercially viable in vitro meat will be a beef hamburger or a pork sausage, rather than anything involving chicken. PETA is happy that its offer sparked debate, created a fellowship, spurred interest and investment from the food industry and ‘dot.com millionaires,’ and has seen patents pending for breakthroughs in developing the process, from tissue scaffolding to muscle development.
“PETA, which has continued to fund research at the University of Missouri into in vitro meat production, will announce tomorrow that the operation was a success, although the prize expired. We recognize that while chickens are the most abused animals used for food, by virtue of their sheer number—a million slaughtered in the U.S. alone each hour—the science used in the development of in vitro pork and beef will eventually be used to create in vitro chicken. Our prize offer has served a purpose, and we will now be entertaining ideas on how to put that $1 million to good use in combating cruelty in food production. Our first focus may be in legal challenges to ‘ag-gag’ legislation that makes it a crime to record atrocities on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, thereby keeping the consumer in the dark.”