PETA wants vat meat researchers to pick up the pace, and they're pledging $1 million to the first research team that can come up with competitively priced fake meat by 2012. It appears this schedule might be too ambitious for researchers to meet, but in any case it's only going to spur greater interest in the field.
Excerpt from NYT article about the prize:
Henk P. Haagsman, a professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and an in vitro meat research pioneer, said he welcomed the prize competition.
"It will hopefully spark more interest to invest in the technology," Professor Haagsman said.
But he said he would not like to see the field dominated by the animal welfare issue, since environmental and public health issues are such important "drivers for this research." The Netherlands has put $5 million into in vitro meat studies.
Another scientist at Utrecht, Bernard Roelen, said via e-mail that he was "rather surprised" by news of the competition, but said that even with strong financing, it would be extremely difficult to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat before 2012. Professor Roelen added, "For me as a researcher, the announcement does not mean so much."