Steaks out of a test-tube? The animal rights group PETA is putting up a million dollar reward for anyone who by 2012 can grow in-vitro meat that looks and tastes like the real thing.
"In-vitro meat production would use animal stem cells that would be placed in a medium to grow and reproduce. The result would mimic flesh and could be cooked and eaten," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement.
The million-dollar reward will go to the participant who manages by 2012 to put test-tube chicken into commercial production and successful sell it in at least 10 US states at a competitive price.
Teams of researchers around the world are already working on producing meat in a laboratory, but it will be several years yet before in-vitro meat makes it onto the dinner table.
A team of 10 PETA jurors will taste the entries to make sure they match the texture and flavor of chicken, and they must score at least 80 out of 100 points to win the prize.
The New York Times revealed Monday that the scheme almost triggered a civil war within the headquarters of the organization dedicated to fighting for animal rights. But PETA argued the move would help avoid unnecessary suffering.
"More than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs, and cows are killed every year for food in the United States in horrific ways," it said in its statement.
"In-vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering. In addition, in vitro meat would dramatically reduce the devastating effects the meat industry has on the environment."
And it added that while "humans don't need to eat meat at all" since many people continued "to refuse to kick their meat addictions, PETA is willing to help them gain access to flesh that doesn't cause suffering and death."