CAMBRIDGE, MA – According to reports, scientists may be well on their way to discovering how to not only circumvent nature by producing wood grown in a lab in the fraction of the time it would take in the wild, but they may even have control over the shapes in which it grows, potentially allowing people to grow furniture while fighting deforestation.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have grown wood-like plant tissue from cells extracted from the leaves of the Mexican Zinnia plant, which can be grown indoors without soil or sunlight; the introduction of plant hormones can turn the cells into a rigid structure, opening the possibility that scientists would be able to shape this grown wood into any shape needed, according to researcher Luis F. Velásquez-García.
“If you want a table, then you should just grow a table,” he said to MIT News. “Plant cells are similar to stem cells in the sense that they can become anything if they are induced to.”
While this may sound unbelievable, bear in mind that scientists have already successfully figured out how to grow “cultivated meat” in a lab that will soon be on the market. Last year, San Francisco-based alternative protein company Eat Just gained regulatory approval to begin selling bioreactor-grown meat after growing real chicken from cells, and Dutch stem-cell researcher Mark Post’s company Mosa Meat announced that they will have lab-gown beef on the market in 2021.
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However, we’re still quite some time from literally growing a dining room table and matching set of chairs, as experts say that it would take “significant financial and intellectual investment” to make lab-grown wood become a reality.