artificial meat: way of the future or way too weird?

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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.

Advantages:

  • 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

Disadvantages:

  • 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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Comments 12 comments

maven101 profile image

maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

Welcome to the new world of Soylent Green....and we all know what happened there...Interesting Hub...Thank you, Larry


cheaptrick profile image

cheaptrick 6 years ago from the bridge of sighs

Kind of turns the insult"Eat Me"into a compliment!

Seriously though,it could not be as revolting as the sight of a terrified animal being led to slaughter...


Anna Evanswood profile image

Anna Evanswood 6 years ago from Malaysia Author

Thank you for your comments maven101 and cheaptrick

The future of food production holds so many challenges with our increasing population perhaps in the not too distant future we will see this type of "meat" in the shops!


sarovai profile image

sarovai 6 years ago

Shall we call it as veg meat.


Anna Evanswood profile image

Anna Evanswood 6 years ago from Malaysia Author

i like the term cultured meat:) sounds refined and not icky like synthetic meat...


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, Anne, I started off thinking yuck, then I realised that it could be a good idea. But then I got to the bit about using Human meat, I mean who would know?! and now I am confused! great hub. Thanks Nell


Anna Evanswood profile image

Anna Evanswood 6 years ago from Malaysia Author

This technology opens the doors to all sorts of exotic meats. Even making large amounts of meat which traditionally comes in small pieces ie shrimp. Who knows what will happen!


SAM 6 years ago

After all the world is becoming a better place for all living things.Human "the Planet Eater" taking some good steps towards becoming civilized.Then world will see Chinese and Koreans in a long line to buy dog and of course the human too...


David 5 years ago

Unfortunately as the Dutch found out, meat grown without the benefit of exercise will be mushy. Vat grown meat might be usable as ground meat but we have yet to grow the perfect marbled steak.


Melissa A Smith profile image

Melissa A Smith 5 years ago from New York

When are people going to learn that when you deviate from what nature intended, you will almost always pay for it.


Anon 4 years ago

Ummm right Melissa...


newenglandsun 3 years ago

"no more animal manure or blood and bone as fertilizer"

That's true. Never thought of that before. Of course, there's also a new issue of potential biohazards cause if we stop eating cows, then there's more poop and more dead bodies. Darwinian evolution concepts requires population control methods. That's why we have wolves that eat deer. Humans have canine teeth and are designed to eat meat.

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