Two of my good friends have started the move toward vegetarianism. One for health reasons, the other for ethical ones. I’ve started eating better myself (more fruits and veggies) because of them. But the lure and ever-almost-here-ness of synthetic meat gives me hope for those of us who can’t (or won’t) give up our carnivores sides. The Guardian presents the two most likely candidates to bring ethical meat to the masses.
The idea of synthetic meat has been around for a long time. In 1932, Winston Churchill stated, “Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” But fake meat, aka schmeat or in-vitro meat, is one of those ideas that, like lunar colonies, fusion power and flying cars, has yet to cross the threshold between fantasy and reality.
To make bigger chunks of meat, [Dr Mark Post, an affable 54-year-old Dutchman] will need to make synthetic fat (“actually quite easy”) and grow the fillets on some sort of biodegradable scaffold, “fed” with nutrients pumped through artificial polysaccharide “veins”. Otherwise the centre of the fillet will become gangrenous and die.
The technique is viable for any species.
“Could you make fake panda?”
“What about human?”
“Don’t go there.”
Eventually, Post envisages a future where huge quantities of high-quality meat are gown in vats, incorporating not only muscle fibres but layers of real fat and even synthetic bone. “In 25 years,” he says, “real meat will come in a packet labelled, ‘An animal has suffered in the production of this product’ and it will carry a big eco tax. I think in 50-60 years it may be forbidden to grow meat from livestock.”
Bioethics is controversial.
No one endorses the ideas or concepts explored here, not even me.
You will develop a strong opinion about something you find here. I want to hear it. Philosophy is a conversation.
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