March 4, 2012

Test Tube Meat: The New Black?

by Horia Varlan

So, meat made from stem cells, sampled from an animal and grown in vitro?

Planet-saving, hunger-stopping factory farm exit strategy, of ubergross on wheels?  Tell me, because I’m stuck here. I want what this stuff would bring, but I do not want this stuff. First burger is due out in October. Are we playing God?  Are we not failing miserably in that role already, regarding the current meat industry?

It is creepy. But less creepy than what happens now to make a “natural” burger by a fat juicy mile. If you are not skeeved-out enough by meat manufacturing today to run for the broccoli forest, you are asleep at the mental wheel, my friend. Bust out some ahimsa, baby! Watch and wake:



The thing that most terrifies me about Petri dish meat is what we do not know.

We don’t know what eating the stuff will do to us. We don’t know what manufacturing muscle, and then consuming, digesting and eliminating it on a large scale will do to the planet. Remember, the automobile came onto the scene as the solution to horse pollution.

The first burger will cost $400k to produce, according to The Economist. All action will then of course shift to the great question. “How can we make it cheaper?” That question will drive all further research, and with that as the driving question, we are in dangerous waters, my friend. Coupled (as afterthoughts) with taste, and maybe nutrition, or at least how to spin the stuff as healthy, the “Wal-marting” of the product will be the holy grail.

Here’s a sunny, bright-side Huffington Post article and video which give a decent enough overview. In the comments, “Open Circles” hits my above point well:

“Sort of reminds me of the first baby formula. The scientists thought they knew everything about breast milk so he replicated that into a synthetic baby formula. Turns out they didn’t know everything about breast milk, which obviously led to a pretty bad outcome. Has anyone considered that our knowledge about food may not be complete? Look at the obesity and health results related to all the ‘enriched,’ ‘fortified’ and ‘improved’ foods that we consume now.”

That touches on what I fear. The part that we don’t know we don’t know. What beast lurks within this solution, slouching towards Beth and Ken, ready to invisibly begin the next huge global health crisis, from inside their bellies?

The vision of factory-farmed meat becoming “real” beef, and escalating into the luxury realm, is about eleven kinds of creepy too. Proponents of in vitro meat are already referring to factory farming as “traditional” farming, and that is a dangerous inaccuracy.

by Sterling College

On the face of it, I don’t like it. At all. Yet this innovation hits me in a very vulnerable place. I’m an animal welfare advocate.  From over here, this looks like trainloads less suffering for the cows, chickens and pigs out there, who did nothing to us and are treated horribly. Their deaths are almost as deplorable as the lives we force them to lead.

Help me out, elephant readers. Where do I stand on this?

Am I open (dumb) enough to trust that this will be a solution, or do I hold to my initial thought that this has disaster written all over it?




Editor: Kate Bartolotta.

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