Meat can not be murder? Meet 'Artificial Meat'
No, I am not talking about fake meat, mock meat or anything that want to taste like meat but it is made of x-y-z, all of these being vegetables... I am talking about REAL meat. Just not coming from an animal.
A few months ago I first read about a new experiment related to creating muscle tissue from one single cell: for my understanding it is a pretty standard procedure, which has already been used for years in a variety of medical applications (for example to produce new skin to transplant to patients with severe burns). However, the difference this time was that the purpose is to produce artificially grown muscle meat (here with a video as well)for human consuption... in the form of some sort of steaks!
As much as it first sounded as a joke, it is not at all: scientists are thinking of creating artificial (but on every biological aspect real) meat on a large scale for us to eat it!!!
I thought this idea to be pretty crazy but doing a little more research about this topic, I discovered that they are for real: the development of artificial meat has progressed a lot more than I thought and they are making it sound a less far fetched idea that what I had thought at the beginning.
The first big breakthough for articial meat happened a year ago, when the news that massive production was proven to be possible: "Scientists at the University of Maryland think that large quantities of artificial meat could be produced to supply the world with animal-free meat products, like chickenless nuggets. This is based on experiments for NASA, that created small amounts of muscle fibre cultured from single cells. According to the researchers, larger quantities could be grown in thin sheets and then stacked up to create thickness".
The reasons behind artificial meat are many, the most obvious of a commercial nature, even if developers are keeping in mind that "cultured meat could appeal to people concerned about food safety, the environment, and animal welfare, and people who want to tailor food to their individual tastes".
This experiment is not a one time and soon-to-be-forgotten event either: a non profit foundation to help develop artificial meat was founded, it is called New Harvest (it does sound very much like something that came out of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, does it not??) and on their website they declare that "one novel line of research is to produce meat in vitro, in a cell culture, rather than from an animal. The production of such "cultured meat" begins by taking a number of cells from a farm animal and proliferating them in a nutrient—rich medium. Cells are capable of multiplying so many times in culture that, in theory, a single cell could be used to produce enough meat to feed the global population for a year".
Now, the idea is definitely a bit shocking... and I am not totally sure what I think about it. However, for lay reporters it is VERY clear that the preferred (and in their eyes extremely thankful) target of this new product is us, the vegetarians and vegans.
Almost no article, aside for scientific papers which stick to the principle of science neutrality, mention artificial meat without talking about animal lovers, environmental activists, militant vegetarians! Let me just list here some of the newspaper articles that appeared on the subjedct to give you an idea: "It's time to stop killing meat and start growing it " (Washington Post and Slate), "Will consumers have a beef with test-tube meat?"(Globe And Mail), "Brave New Hamburger "(Village Voice), "When meat is not murder " (Guardian), "Why meat may not be murder " (The Independent).
The problem is... are we really a target for this possibly future product? I immediately asked myself what I was thinking about the issue, me being a vegan. And I am still pretty unsure whether this is ethical or not: I just know I am so turned off by meat that I would not eat it, even if coming from non animal sources (right now the starting for the cell culture is coming by animals but there are plans to totally ditch using animals all together, since this was the scientist's original purpuse)... On the other hand, if mass production was indeed possible, it could mean a huge relief from the terrible impact factory farming is having on the environment.
At last, what do you think? Would you abandon your veg*n habits if meat was made a healthy and completely cruelty free viable option? What is your position on this experiment? A marginal break thought that will never develop or the hope for humanity?