London: Coming soon, the world's first test-tube hamburger, say scientists. A team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands claims that the first such laboratory-made burger could be a year away. It will have meat grown from stem cells, paving the way for eating meat without animals being slaughtered.

The Scientists are currently developing the burger which will be grown from 10,000 stem cells extracted from cattle, which are then left in the laboratory to multiply more than a billion times to produce muscle tissue similar to beef.The product is called "in vitro" meat.

The world's meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 as the population increases. And, the scientists predict over the next few decades the global population will increase so quickly that there won't be enough livestock to feed all.

Prof Mark Post, who is leading the team, was quoted as saying, "I don't see any way you could rely on old-fashioned livestock in the coming decades. In vitro meat will be the only choice left.”

"We are trying to prove to the world that we can make a product out of this and we need a courageous person who is willing to be the first to taste it. If no one comes forward then it might be me."

Prof Post told the 'Scientific American' magazine that he thought the first burger could be made within 12 months.

Even if the initial results do not taste quite the same as proper meat, the Dutch scientists are convinced the public will soon get used to it, especially if they don't have a choice.

A colleague of Prof Post said, "When we are eating a hamburger we don't think, 'I'm eating a dead cow'. And when people are already far from what they eat, it's not too hard to see them accepting cultured meat."

In 2009, researchers from the same university grew strips of pork using the same method. They admitted it was not particularly appetising, being grey with a similar texture to calamari.

(Agencies)