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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Would Mikey eat it?

We grow fruits, grains and vegetables. Can we "grow" meat, too? Research has already begun in producing in vitro meat, that is, meat grown in a lab and not harvested or hatched from an animal. Now Peta is offering $1 million to any scientist who can create lab-grown meat that is commercially viable and tastes like the real deal.

An impossible task? Maybe not. But will people eat it?

Here's how it works? Researchers take stem cells from animals and place them in some kind of growth medium - some kind of fluid that supplies nutrients blood would normally supply. Sheets of cells are then administered electric shocks or stretched mechanically. Wait. Harvest. Eat. Sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie, right?

Proponents of "cultured meat," as it's called, say it's not only safer for personal consumption, it's better for the environment, too. Meat grown in a petri dish would be safe from diseases like Avian Flu and Mad Cow Disease and free from growth hormones or antibiotics used in many factory farms. Researchers can also adjust the fat content of lab-grown meat and even substitute artery-clogging beef fat with heart-friendly salmon fat. Lab-grown meat would also reduce emissions and pollution associated from cattle productions. And vegetarians/vegans laud it because it eliminates animal suffering and death.

Research on cultured meat has taken on greater proportions in light of the current fuel crisis. Last year 16 percent of the grain grown in the United States went to produce ethanol, but 70 percent of U.S. grain production was fed to livestock.
Cultured meat would allow us to divert grain usage from cattle to alternative fuel development - without resulting in a rising of food prices or food insecurities around the world. This is especially significant considering that as use more and more of our own grain to produce ethanol, we then have to import more grain, grown in poorer nations, to feed our livestock. Eventually, poor nations will be unable to compete and will become less and less likely to be able to feed themselves - a phenomenon we're already seeing today in Mexico, Pakistan and West African countries.

Cultured meat is a novel idea, and one many find, well, yucky. But with global meat production expected to double between 2001 and 2050, the need for bio-fuels and world food security should ultimately triumph over our gag reflexes.

What do you think? Would you eat cultured meat? Should we eat meat grown in a lab?


7 Comments:

at 1:06 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

No. Something must die when I dine, and preferably something I met while it was living a short time before dinner (or, in the case of oysters, clams, and muscles, is still living as I devour it). That's just how I roll.

 
at 12:38 PM Blogger vudutu said...

Loved the comment Chad.

 
at 3:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mussels you food snob.... unless your eating your cousin Louie's bicep.....

 
at 12:57 AM Anonymous Bag Of Toes said...

I'd love a healthy helping of SMEAT (Synthetic Meat) Less chance of getting funk from it, no pain invloved for an animal and hopefully they take the artery clogging shit out of the steak so I can eat them every day when I'm 60!

 
at 1:00 AM Anonymous Obi-Wan Code-nobie said...

SMEAT...it's what's grown for dinner.

 
at 9:57 AM Blogger Rachel said...

SMEAT - Ha! That's clever. It's SPAM meats Treat.

My husband read this story too and said his first thought was Soylent Green.

 
at 9:58 AM Blogger Rachel said...

That should be, It's SPAM meets Treat, but the other spelling works, too.

 
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