People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would prefer we all adopt the vegan lifestyle, but knowing a lot of us cannot kick our “meat addictions,” the organization decided to put up a reward to encourage laboratory-grown chicken. In theory, in vitro meat would be pathogen-free, eliminating food safety risk in beef, pork or poultry grown in a lab. In vitro, or “cultured” meat, is not imitation meat like those vegetable protein products that are supposed to taste like beef or chicken.  In vitro meat is real, even though it has never been part of a living animal. Four years ago, PETA offered a $1 million reward to the first scientist who could cook up the first test tube chicken in a laboratory. The original deadline for claiming that cash prize is just days away, on June 30, 2012. But PETA says the deadline is being extended to 2013 to give scientists who are pursuing the prize more time to work on their in vitro projects. PETA hopes the contest pulls some of the interest there has been in lab-grown beef, pork, and fish over to poultry because more than 1 million chickens are eaten every hour in the U.S.  As unlikely as it may seem now, PETA would like to see chicken factories, transport, and slaughter replaced. In extending the reward deadline, PETA this week said Dr. Gabor Forgacs of the University of Missouri and Modern Meadow is probably the in the lead for the reward. He is the first scientist in North America to produce and consume a tissue-engineered meat product, and he is currently working on commercial production. PETA’s prize has upped interest in in vitro research believed to be going on in at least 30 college and company labs around the globe. PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk is more enthusiastic about vegan products already on the market that she says are already causing people to switch over. “But lab chicken is grown from flesh, and if that’s what what some people still want to put in their mouths, PETA will help deliver it,” she says. PETA is also funding in vitro meat researcher, Dr. Nicholas Genovese, who is part of the University of Missouri team working on the technology. In Europe, Dr. Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, has gained attention for his research into lab-grown beef. PETA’s rules for the $1 million reward require applying by the deadline date and making commercial sales two years later. PETA plans to use a ten judge panel of “meat eating” individuals to make the selection.