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Is KFC's 3D-printed "meat of the future" a fantasy or a nightmare?

3D printing can often seem like a world of endless possibilities – a theory that KFC seems to be testing with its latest announcement. The fast food chain claims to be working on the world's first 3D-printed chicken nuggets, or as KFC calls it: "the meat of the future". But whether it's a future anyone asked for is another matter entirely.

KFC has partnered with Russian biotechnology company 3D Printing Solutions to create "the world's first laboratory-produced chicken nuggets," and expects to have the final product ready for testing in Moscow before the end of this year. If you fancy rendering your own 3D chicken nuggets (or literally anything else), check out our best 3D modelling software

KFC video screenshot

KPC: Kentucky Printed Chicken (Image credit: KFC)

In a press release, KFC says the process will use "chicken cells and plant material, allowing it to reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat". The company claims its 3D-printed nuggets will be "as close as possible in both taste and appearance" to the originals.

While the concept of 3D-printed food might sound throughly dystopian, KFC says there are benefits. The company says its “biomeat” (yum) will do away with the additives used in traditional farming, resulting in a “cleaner final product”. KFC also adds that the lab-grown meat will also cut down on energy consumption and harm to animals.

“At KFC, we are closely monitoring all of the latest trends and innovations and doing our best to keep up with the times," says KFC Russia's general manager Raisa Polyakova. "Our experiment in testing 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken products can also help address several looming global problems."

While these environmental and ethical benefits could make KFC's meat of the future a little more palatable, many simply can't stomach the idea of lab-grown chicken: 

We've seen many examples of the range of opportunities afforded by 3D printing lately, including last week's statue of a Black Lives Matter protestor. No doubt we'll see more surprising uses of the technology in the coming months – including many, like KFC's, that bring to mind our favourite quote from Jurassic Park: "they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should". 

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