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Scientists offered $1 million to grow laboratory chicken

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  • Animal rights group offers $1 million to anyone who can grow meat in lab
  • Meat has to have "taste" and "texture" of the real thing to win prize
  • Tasting panel to be set up to make sure meat makes the grade
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An animal rights group is offering $1 million to any scientist who can create lab-grown meat that is commercially viable and indistinguishable in taste from the real thing.

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PETA wants scientists to grow chicken meat in labs to stop the birds from being caged and treated poorly.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said the money would go to the first scientist who could create and market such a meat by the summer of 2012. The group said the scientist had to be able to produce the meat in large enough quantity so it could be sold in 10 U.S. states -- at a price competitive to the prevailing chicken price.

Further, the meat had to have "taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken flesh to non-meat eaters and meat eaters alike."

A taste-test panel would determine if the lab-produced meat fitted the criteria.

The group said research had already begun to produce in vitro meat -- that is, meat created from animal stem cells placed in a medium to grow and reproduce.

However, the group said in a statement on its Web site: "We're still several years away from having in vitro meat be available to the general public."

PETA said it was supporting the endeavor because more than 40 billion chicken, fish, pigs and cows were killed every year for food in the United States in "horrific ways."

"Chickens are drugged to grow so large they often become crippled, mother pigs are confined to metal cages so small they can't move, and fish are hacked apart while still conscious -- all to feed America's meat addiction," it said. "In vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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