artificial meat: way of the future or way too weird?
An idea from Science fiction may produce a solution to our growing populations food requirements. Cruelty free meat. Meat that is grown in a vat of nutrient solution. A meat that can be produced without killing an animal.
How does it work?
Some muscle cells are taken from a living animal and placed in a nutrient solution that supplies all nutrients that a growing cell needs along with oxygen and a way of disposing of the growing cells wastes. The cells continue to reproduce until a lump of meat is ready to be harvested. This type of meat production does not require genetic engineering as the scientist is taking living cells of one animal and culturing those up not combining DNA from more than one animal or type of animal.
- meat can be produced without the death of an animal
- potentially less green house gases will be produced ie cattle and sheep produce vast amounts of methane a greenhouse gas through their digestive system
- less space will be needed to produce this meat
- no cross contamination from the gut of the animal during slaughter
- Vegetarians who are vegetarian due to "cruelty" issues could once again consume meat
- meat could be produced at a cheaper price
- endangered animal meat could be eaten with no effect on wild populations
- all meat could be organic ie no antibiotics, hormones, pesticides required
- creating meat in this manner may increase research into growing new organs for humans
- A healthier meat could be produced with decreased amounts of fat in it
- Genetic stocks of animals could decrease as there will only be a few genetic lines of meat
- Exotic meat ie human flesh could be cultivated
- Mince meat is the easiest meat to cultivate so in its infancy this would mean a limitted variety of meat for cooks
- some people may be revolted by the idea of growing meat in vats of nutrient solution
- pollution from nitrates being released into the environment
- sourcing the nutrients for the solution without mining or environmental damage is difficult
- no more animal manure or blood and bone as fertilizer
So how far along are we?
- A research group from Touro College grew some goldfish muscle cells
- In 2004 a group was created called New Harvest to promote research into in vitro meat
- in 2005 a research project was started in the Netherlands into cultured meat
- In 2008 PETA announced a 1 million dollar prize to the first company that can produce synthetic meat that is comparable and prices well against natural meat.
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