Remember that scene in the Matrix where they all sit down to eat in the “real” world? They each get a plate of grey, goopy stuff that someone states is full of ‘necessary protein and vitamins.’ This scene may very well become reality.

I happened to catch a documentary on CBC about in-vitro meat. That’s right, meat grown in a laboratory! Scientists are taking stem cells from cows, chickens, and pigs, and growing it into thin sheets of “meat.” Currently, they can only grow the meat fibres in thin sheets, and it’s not the typical muscley and fibrous meat we are used to. Because these muscle fibres don’t get exercised, the meat is formless and soft – much like the protein goop from the Matrix. Scientists are looking into a way of “exercising” the meat so that it will more closely resemble (and taste like) the meat we are used to.

There are a number of issues orbiting this relatively new development…  Although I gather that it’s not really all that new in science circles – this kind of thing may have been successfully occurring for at least a decade. Is this the first sight we are getting of a sustainable meat source, that is neither harmful to the environment, nor to animals? In an excerpt taken from http://www.timesonline.co.uk:

“Peta says that the world’s use and abuse of chickens is the most urgent issue to be tackled, as billions of them are slaughtered each year – 100 times more than pigs and 200 times more than cattle.”

If scientists can refine their processes and create a socially acceptable meat, could this be the end of chickens being held hostage in cages the same size as their bodies for their entire life? Could this be the end of the meat industry as we know it? Perhaps it is. But all of this hinges on so many things. Not only does the process have to be refined and the meat “strengthened,” but it all has to come on the market at a competitive price to traditional meat… not to mention that it has to taste good – and it will have to become socially acceptable to eat “lab fresh” meat.

There are many environmental and other issues surrounding meat production, including air and water pollution, land degradation (due to animals grazing/living on the land), a massive (over?)use of fresh water, and even climate change has been linked to livestock farming. Not to mention that all of these animals also have to be slaughtered for our consumption – and the amount of waste associated with the industry.

In my humble opinion, I think that in-vitro meat is a positive development for humanity. I’m not exactly sure of all the information surrounding how the “meat” is produced, and if environmentally conscious methods are being used, but it seems to me like a good idea. That being said – I’m going to answer the million dollar question that many people will be asking themselves – Yes, I will try *lab fresh* meat.  I would definitely find it difficult to become vegetarian. I love chicken, fish, bacon, ham all too much. It still remains neither easy, nor cheap, to find free range meat in my area. When I do find it, and I can afford it, I do buy it. To me – lab fresh meat (this is sounding more and more gruesome) would be a spectacular alternative.

What are your thoughts on the processes and issues surrounding this new (they seriously need to come up with a better name for this) “Lab-fresh meat? Would you eat “Frankenfood?”

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