Robert Winner

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Would you eat "in vitro" meat?

Dutch biologist Mark Post says he can make a lab grown hamburger available by the end of the year.

What would be the impacts world wide of have lab grown meat?

  • Jan 21 2012: Personally I have no ethical problem with eating animals. I would like to see people move towards near-vegetarianism (people need far less meat than they tend to consume, in order to get all the iron/protein/other good stuff they need that meat supplies well) and the meat industry become more like a niche market, providing meat more locally in quantities that would make it easy to house and slaughter the animals humanely. And if we ate so much less of it, it wouldn't be such a problem that organically, humanely produced meat would cost more (staying local would help lower the cost). In those tiny quantities, meat-eating would also have far less inpact on the environment in terms of things like land or water use.

    I see lab-grown meat as a complete waste of resources and scientific talent. If you love the taste of meat, but don't want to kill animals to eat, it's time to either get over your love of meat, or investigate meat-flavoured substitutes. I really don't think that anyone needs meat so badly that we have to resort to frankenfood burger options.
    • Jan 24 2012: Your second paragraph unfortunately highlights what David Croxton wrote above: "use it to feed people not to make money". In my opinion the only reason scientist are heading this way is actually under heavy investments from the food processing companies (not meat packers) who see a way to:
      a. Even more cheaply create a supply of meat that they can fully control and can generate huge revenue.
      b. Take over meat packers' market share by highlighting the more humane nature of their product.
      • Jan 24 2012: But that's just it, Jonathon. If our goal is to feed people, encouraging vegetarianism, or at least more vegetarian diets, is the way to go. The meat industry uses grain and other resources (like water) that can be used to feed a much, much greater number of people than animals (or eventually meat eaters). If we don't shift our paradigm to one of LESS meat, not just DIFFERENTLY PRODUCED meat, there will still be a resource problem. Imagine the resources needed to grow enough meat in labs if the consumer demand for meat remains as high as it is now. If we work to reduce customer demand for meat, either solution (animals or frankenburgers) will be less resource consuming. But in the end, why bother with the second option? People don't NEED meat. They certainly don't need it in the quantities they consume right now. In fact, that quantity of meat consumption by some is reducing their level of health.
      • Jan 24 2012: By the way, I assume you meant humane, not human. A more human product could really get them in trouble. :):)
    • Jan 27 2012: Why be opposed to meat when it is grown like a plant.
      You talk about the benefits of a vegan diet and automatically assume meat is antithesis to that. Why?
      Why assume a more scientific approach to meat production will not solve the problems you see and bring meat on par with your vision of veggies?

      What is the difference between a lab (greenhouse) grown tomato and a lab grown hamburger?
      • Jan 27 2012: The difference is that tomatoes already grow all by themselves. All you are doing in a greenhouse is recreating their natural environment. Lab grown meat is a much different prospect, because you are producing it in a completely different way to the way it is produced naturally. Which means that a LOT of research, experimentation, development and RESOURCES will be needed in order to make it happen. I just think it's a waste of time and resources for an unneeded outcome. Science doesn't have to run off and provide for our every whim (in this case to have our animal flesh and protect the animal too, so we don't feel bad).

        I think the better choice is to simply reduce our consumption of meat and focus our time and resources on more beneficial R&D projects, where the resource investment will produce a better outcome than lab burgers.

        And for the record, I am not opposed to eating animals at all. I am strongly in favour of moving towards a more vegetarian diet, where the AMOUNT of meat people consume is greatly reduced. Not only would this reduce the use of resources like land and water, but it is mass production that has encouraged the development of the most morally reprehensible animal husbandry and slaughter practices. Small scale farming facilitates humane treatment of animals.

        Sure, lab meat might satisfy those morally opposed to killing animals for their meat at all, but I just think we don't need it. Just eat less meat. If you're morally opposed to killing animals for food, eat no meat. If you believe it's wrong to use animal products, become a vegan. But we don't need lab meat. IMO there are so many higher priorities.
        • Jan 27 2012: "Simply reduce our consumption of meat"

          I don't think there's anything simple about that fact, it would require society itself to radically change. Most people are happy to just eat what they know they like, and if they like, they'll continue to eat lots of it.

          Lab meat may be a way of reducing the environmental impact of the enormous meat consumption in the short term. If hamburgers can be grown on demand in a lab then we won't have loads of cows farting their global warming into the atmosphere and there obviously won't be as much waste.

          I don't claim to know the exact difference between the environmental impact of loads of scientists science-ing up some beef and loads of cows being generally cow-ish, but it seems that the sheer amount of farming required to produce as much meat as is being consumed is using far too many resources, which is a point I agree with you on.

          I think lab meat may be a short term solution to the problem of epic resource consumption, but the long term solution would obviously be a reduction in the amount of meat eaten.
        • Jan 27 2012: meat grows by it self as well - you're just replacing the rest of the animal with a pertri dish of nutrients. A lot of research, experimentation and resources have been spend to generate the "perfect", germ and disease resistant, high yield product you buy in the supermarket.
          It's not about having our animal flesh and eat it too (to me), it's about generating basic nutrients for people without access to the carefully balanced and genetically selected veggies required to survive on a meatless diet. It's about efficiency of production.

          Yes, the better choice is to reduce consumption (of just about everything, including meat). Unfortunately, you fall into the trap of thinking it's a choice of "either/or". Either we do research which benefits (what you think is important) or we squander resources. Research is always additive. Research is never wasted, as long as it adds to knowledge.
          Even if we choose not to eat meat anymore, your lab burger project may one day allow us to grow replacement kidneys and livers (both delicious when well prepared!) that can safe lives (before they're cooked)
      • Jan 27 2012: Alex: Yes, but that's a lot of trouble to go to for a short term solution. And it isn't so radical a change. It's change I just made personally - going from eating meat usually more than once a day, to eating it maybe three times a week (usually when I'm out). I have basically the same diet as before, except that I eat eggs and legumes more as my protein. I already loved eating vegetables and grains, so it's really just a matter of leaving out the meat. I know I can get all the nutrients I need from meat by eating about 500g of it a week, so three meals that include meat is working out fine. I guess I treat meat now the way I treat chocolate. I like the taste a lot, but having it every day is unnecessary (and unhealthy).

        henk: maybe the research will prove useful for some other reason, though frankenburgers aren't quite the same as clone kidneys (but I take your point). In fact it's probably true to say that the idea of lab-grown meat probably wouldn't even exist if weren't for that kind of cloning technology, so I think the research chain probably goes the other way.

        Guys, we just disagree. I see it as a waste of time and resources and you don't. That's fine.
        • Feb 1 2012: well, you disagree because you think that people shouldn't eat as much meat as they should right now. It's great that you are making healthy choices for yourself, eating less meat. But why should your belief be imposed on other people?

          Even if it is relatively unhealthy, are we really going to impose a blanket diet on everyone? why stop there? let's ban smoking too!

          If they like eating meat, and producing meat costs us both economically and environmentally, then it wouldn't be a waste to look for more efficient ways to produce the meat in demand.

          Also, as the world's population continues to grow, we need to make it more efficient to produce protein. We can't rely on legumes and eggs, even if the world suddenly forgoes their appetite for meat.
      • Feb 1 2012: Elmer: I wasn't suggesting that we forceably put everyone on a particular diet - certainly not that everyone copy my eating habits. I said that I think encouraging people to reduce their meat consumption (by giving them all the information on its impact, and by making rules that demand humane treatment of farm animals (in how they are housed, fed, and slaughtered) which is fair, but would also reduce demand by increasing the price). I only gave the information on my own changing diet as an example of how I thought it would be really difficult for people to change those habits (which is what others are arguing) but actually I was really surprised as how easy it was. As long as I eat meat a couple of times a week I don't miss it at other times. That surprised me and it made me realise that there are probably a lot of people who could reduce the amount of meat they eat without feeling any hardship from doing so. I never suggested imposing that on anyone else. I'm talking about people choosing to reduce their meat consumption and just saying I think it could happen, especially if we focus on that kind of education instead of wasting time on frankenburgers.
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      Jan 27 2012: Lab grown meat . OK sounds Nice .

      Deborah "I see lab-grown meat as a complete waste of resources and scientific talent. " Why?
      I love the taste of meat,and i don't have any problem killing chicken . But still its a nice invention . It may produce cost effective meat some time or may need less resources to produce meat.. Isn't that good.

      "If our goal is to feed people, encouraging vegetarianism, or at least more vegetarian diets, is the way to go. "
      I know PETA has created some awareness of vegetarianism. But I think its never possible. as Asia and La America economy gets stronger they will be more affectionate to non veg. Meat consumption will increase day by day . And i think synthetic meat can be a solution.
      • Jan 27 2012: I agree, it could. I just think it's a bad, resource-wasting solution. I think it will take an enormous amount of time and money to develop before it becomes cost efficent.

        The way we eat has changed a lot over time. There's no reasont hat more meat HAS to become the norm, in any society. Encouraging and promoting a more vegetarian diet through education could prevent the need for lab-grown meat to be developed at all.
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          Jan 27 2012: The reason human civilization has grown so fast because they alwasy want more. Ya its true that if US becomes vegeterian africa wont have any food problem. It is not impossible also but its improbable.
          The 8 or 9 neuclear power country spen so much on military budget that can feed whole asia or africa.
          So I think rather than trying to make people vegan trying to produce cost and resource effetive synthetic meat will be more feasibl.
      • Jan 28 2012: "produce cost and resource effetive synthetic meat"

        It's not synthetic meat. It's actually animal flesh. It's just never been part of a whole animal.
    • Jan 28 2012: Deborah, as passionately as you feel about vegetarianism... and despite the fact that it's quite a populous movement...

      If we're to be honest with ourselves, you guys would have an easier time shifting mountains with shovels than changing current planetary food consumption habits through... what really amounts to chastisement. If vegetarian alternatives became superior to meat options in a number of factors including taste and cost, you'd have a much easier time convincing people.

      Falling short of that, vat grown meat is definitely a worthwhile avenue of exploration. We should be concerned about the ways in which it could be exploited... but vigilance should just be that - rather than outright fear mongering or outright emotional rejection of a product of which many details are still 'undefined'.
      • Jan 28 2012: I think it's possible that lab grown meat could be a more humane alternative (for those who believe that killing animals for food is wrong (I don't)) but I think it would take a long time to be cost efficient. Can paying lab techs to farm meat under safe lab conditions actually be cheaper than having a cow stand in a field eating grass? (I know US cows are often grain fed, but they're not here in Australia.)

        And people already love vegetarian food. They just usually eat it with meat next to it. :)
        • Jan 29 2012: >And people already love vegetarian food. They just usually eat it with meat next to it. :)

          Try walking into a restaraunt and telling people you'll be replacing their meat with extra servings of veggies.

          Try the opposite. I think you'll start to come to a realization as to the sort of entrenched social/cultural/emotional attachment we have to the taste of meat.
      • Jan 28 2012:

        The details - very expensive, and at the moment, pretty unappetising.
        • Jan 29 2012: It's a tad disingenious to think that the proof of concept prototypes that they're making right now will be representative in anyway of whatever final product that these companies wish to trot out. It's more likely that unless they can find a marketable form (right taste/texture/price) these products will never see the day of light.

          Of course, I wouldn't doubt for a moment that they'll release it at high prices to see if the market can bear it - marketing it as new ethical meat. I'm sure it'll do well with just moralistic vegetarians to begin with!
      • Jan 29 2012: I wasn't offering it as any kind of evidence, or assuming the final product will be exactly the same - just providing more detail on where they're up to. I mostly posted it for the details on the cost, because it's relevant to what I was saying about it being a waste of research and development resources.
        • Jan 29 2012: If they make a feasible product, then how could it possibly be a waste of research and development?

          If they don't, then how would they know how feasible it is without doing the R&D to figure that out?

          It's only a waste if the product or idea is redundant or unfeasible in the first place - but the idea of vat grown meat is appealing to many of us. And rationally assessing it, there's plenty of logical and rational reasons for us to move in this direction - less energy/calories per gram of meat, more ethical, better quality control (in theory), able to genetically engineer relevant nutrition into the product (more omega-3 fats for example).

          Of course, it's always worth bearing in mind the current condition of the research so that we don't get too ahead of ourselves - but if we're been honest here, that's not exactly what you're doing Deborah. By your own admission no less - you're proffering it up as a relevant example (if that isn't evidence, I don't know what is) of why it's 'a waste of research and development resources.'
      • Jan 29 2012: George. I will try to be clearer. It would also be great if you could not deliberately misunderstand. You said it was 'disingenious to think that the proof of concept prototypes that they're making right now will be representative in anyway of whatever final product...' In reply to that point, I said I wasn't offering it up as evidence of, or assuming, a final product in its current form. The part where I said I thought it was relevant was to do with the enormous cost.

        The reason I think it's a waste of R&D is, using your terms, I think the product is, though perhaps feasible, also redundant. We don't need a lab to produce meat. But we might need it to produce meat in sufficient quantities to meet growing demand. IF WE WANT TO MEET DEMAND. I think the better answer is to work at reducing demand. The way to do this is to not only educate people as to the environmental and resource impact of the meat industry, but also to make much stricter laws relating to the humane treatment of animals. The reason demand can be as high as it is, is because meat is so cheap (especially meat supplied for fast food). But it can only be that cheap while appalling standards remain. (Yes, I watched Food, Inc recently. :)) Changing the standards will make meat more expensive, which will drive down demand. And if our concern here is the animals (as people want lab-grown meat to avoid killing animals) those standards are a great first step anyway.
        • Jan 29 2012: What does the large cost of a prototype have to do with anything though? Prototypes of anything just cost a lot. Research and development just costs a lot. The only way to follow the logic that is been implied by what you've written is that the enormous cost of the prototype and R&D makes the final product not viable. But it's a faulty argument to make - because the end product and it's potential effect is massive and desirable.

          It is unfortunate that it takes our food industries so much energy and resources to produce the 'natural' meat that we consume so readily. On the other hand, protein and meat in general has great value as a source of nutrition; both macro and micro. Indeed, a protein heavy diet is generally more in line with our body function than the current carb and grain heavy diet that modern culture focuses on (largely due to pragmatic factors such as cost).

          In that sense, I would reject the notion that we should seek to reduce the demand of meat products. While we can certainly espouse a more balanced diet with increased vegetable load, replacing protein calories from animal sources with carbs and solely plant sourced proteins is not just ineffective, but potentially hazardous for population health and nutrition.

          At this point in time, in-vitro meat of course has a much higher cost and probably doesn't pass the taste test for many - but that's why R&D is required. The promise of a cheaper, more ethical meat source is of too great a promise to ignore.

          Ideally, in the not too distant future, in-vitro meat is a viable protein alternative to traditionally grown animal meat; one thing that can be done to make it sooner is to have the externality costs of the animal meat better represented - it'll bring the in-vitro meat to parity with traditional animal meat quicker.

          Another thing that can be done is for us to explore additional protein sources, including bugs and insects.
      • Jan 29 2012: "Try the opposite. I think you'll start to come to a realization as to the sort of entrenched social/cultural/emotional attachment we have to the taste of meat."

        Yep, true. Society is capable of change - also true.
        • Jan 29 2012: Yes... society is capable of change.
          Some changes are easier than others.
          And some changes still, are practically impossible.

          I would focus my energies on making changes that are easy and possible over focusing on tasks that are nigh on impossible.
      • Jan 29 2012: "But it's a faulty argument to make - because the end product and it's potential effect is massive and desirable."
        We disagree on that.

        "Indeed, a protein heavy diet is generally more in line with our body function than the current carb and grain heavy diet that modern culture focuses on"
        Incorrect. While we are omnivores, our digestive system is more similar to those of herbivores than carnivores. And all the unhealthy fats are animal fats.

        "I would reject the notion that we should seek to reduce the demand of meat products...replacing protein calories from animal sources with carbs and solely plant sourced proteins is not just ineffective, but potentially hazardous for population health and nutrition."
        'Reducing the demand for meat' and 'replacing animal protein with carbs and solely plant sourced proteins' are not the same the same thing, and I never advocated for erasing meat from our diets. I have consistently argued for people consuming the amount of meat we actually need to get all of the nutrients meat is good at providing, which is a piece of meat the size of the pad of the hand (the fleshy part next to the thumb on the palm) about three times a week. In my experience that is about 500g of meat per week. I think we should reduce demand by encouraging people to enjoy only the amount of meat they actually need, by education and by increasing the cost of meat to decrease demand.

        "The promise of a cheaper, more ethical meat source is of too great a promise to ignore."
        Again, we disagree on that. I don't believe it will ever be cheaper than the $1-$5 burgers McDonalds sells, which is a massive component of meat over-consumption in Western societies. Also, as I've already stated, I don't agree that humane animal husbandry and slaughter is unethical.

        And in-vitro meat production is, apparently, possible, but it can hardly be considered easy. I'd also argue that getting people to embrace any product clearly identifiable as lab meat will also not be easy.
      • Jan 29 2012: And George, let me make it clear that I understand that some people DO regard killing animals for food as unethical. But I don't think it should be stand as a given in this discussion, especially as most of the population DON'T have an ethical problem with eating animals. I consider it unlikely that in-vitro meat, even if successfully produced, will replace farm-grown meat anytime soon, because most people don't consider the goal of saving animals' lives important. If they did, massive meat consumption wouldn't be the norm.

        In fact, you've said that swapping to lab meat is the change that is 'easy and possible'. I don't think that would be any easier than convincing people to eat less meat, especially if the cost of lab meat never becomes genuinely cheap, and certainly not if the texture and taste of lab meat never really approximates the meat people enjoy the most, which is not just burgers, but also quite different and delicious things like steak and roast chicken and pork crackling.

        Also, the lab meat is grown from stem cells from leftover bits at slaughter houses, so animals did die to produce the meat he is currently cultivating.. Will that be self-perpetuating after it begins, or will the process require fresh stem cells from time to time? If the latter, then people who eshew meat-eating on the grounds that killing animals for food is wrong should be cautious about seeing in-vitro meat as an ethical alternative.
        • Jan 30 2012: I'll let you have the last word Deborah. But I should let you know, in case you take silence as some sort of tacit agreement - that I remain wholly unconvinced by your arguments.
      • Jan 30 2012: Duly noted. :)
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      Feb 2 2012: Wow so many replies to your comment; I just want to say that I agree with you. Eating an animal is not something we should oppress too much like vegans say. The problem is in the cruel animal raising industry and the environmental problems that are caused by too many animals. What's important is that we should reduce our meat consume, not that we should cut it completely which is impossible. Oh, and my opinion to the question is "I would not". I see no need in it.
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    Jan 17 2012: Absolutely yes, particularly if I grew it myself. While I'm at it, I might grow some spare body parts to have on hand in case I lose a foot while mowing the lawn or something.
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      Jan 20 2012: The home biolab, we can only hope :) I can print 3d in plastic, but I'm looking forward to the day when I can print in DNA.
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    Jan 27 2012: Why not ?
    Are we not eating already ?
    Chickens we are eating now a days are genetically modified already....... thats "in vivo " I know ....
    But what's the difference if those are same amino acid or fat.....

    Well psychological barrier will be there for some people for sometime but if marketed well it will get it's space.

    Remember once people were reluctant to take hybrid vegetables , used to say those are less tasety than natural vegetables.... even hybrids were costly than natural varieties...

    Now it's other way... hybrids are cheap and natural varieties costly with a new name ORGANIC......It's a cycle....seems

    Impact ?
    Less killing of natural animals or even genetically modified ones....
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    Jan 18 2012: I certainly would, however, I worry about the "science fiction" concerns of progress.

    The only reason that cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens are not endangered, is that they are domesticated, and profitable as sources of food. I worry that removal of our reliance on any major land mammal or marine animal as a staple food source will eventually cause their extinction as our species overpopulates the globe.

    We will certainly need lab-grown sources of high-protein food once we leave the planet, and lab-grown meat would be an option, but why not soy beans? They are hardy and will grow just about anywhere.

    In the end, I'm concerned about the collapse of commerce, the collapse of the food web, and our lack of attachment to nature, should something go awry and force us to lean on our skills rather than our technology.

    The fact that we are talking about in-vitro meat as a viable economic option tells me that something is very wrong with our society, and I think the heart of the problem lies in our population. Human overpopulation is the real elephant in the room. Sure, our planet can support maybe another 8 billion human beings on top of what we have, but at what cost? Is it a cost we are willing to take? To do so might very well destroy the biological diversity of our planet.

    As for eating it, sure. If it bleeds, I'll eat it.
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      Jan 20 2012: There are different kinds of efficiency, depending on what performance factor you're attempting to maximize. Urban Homestead grows 6000 pounds of food and feeds a family of four on a suburban lot in Southern California (about 1/10th an acre), and they do it sustainably and organically. I'm not so worried about overpopulation, as to the consequences of maximizing the wrong performance factor - which is what we're dealing with right now.

      The human population will stabilize just below the maximum sustainability limit, and then probably decline from there in the long run. This is inevitable; it's just how nature works. Where that limit is found, and what mechanism creates it, is largely up to individual human beings to determine. Will it be found and sustained through violence and conflict, or through peaceful individual action? Who will participate in each form, and how will they be affected by the other? What will be left of non-human life on this planet when the dust settles?

      To me, this whole vat meat thing symbolizes people looking into the future toward a peaceful answer - one in which technology is used to keep people fed while meeting their preferences. It is only one answer; biointensive organic agriculture of the kind practiced by the Urban Homesteaders is another. Both appear to be valid, and both have their problems. The former is energy-expensive and creates central points of failure; the latter requires a great deal of constant menial labor and attention that cannot be externalized or delegated. Most other paths involve violence - either petty but pervasive violence of government enforcement of population limits and rationing, or mass violence as an increasing number of people fight over a decreasing amount of resources until enough have died to return to a level of sustainability.
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      Jan 20 2012: They do say that our population is going to be maximized in the next 50 years and then start declining. It's been a long haul. What will happen after that? Won't we experience the contraction? Everyone says social security will be the problem. Whatever the solutions are, I agree that we'll choose from our available preferences, but will we have the same availability of choices for that efficiency? I don't think we should over-look the benefits of the technology when we can implement it now. I believe whatever we choose can and should be a little more guided than just a natural process. As human beings we can popularize ideas and they shape the course of the world. Being passive about these technological opportunities leaves us open to our greatest shortfalls. The truth is that as long as wildernesses are shrinking world wide, we aren't sustainable. And even if we do promote the technology, if we don't also strongly promote the reason why then we're still heading towards a sterilized planet as a previous comment suggests. It's due to natural selection of our species; the technology we choose is a part of that, but we can be smart about it.

      We had a renaissance! What came from this was science and the arts. But most over-looked was freedom of choice and the pursuit of happiness. Hundreds of years later the fight for freedom of choice goes on, but now we need to make more informed decisions. For life to be beautiful one of the things we need is for the world to be beautiful, but we're too busy competing with ourselves everyday and education lacks instilling of values. We need another renaissance now that we have these awesome discussions about technology.
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    Jan 10 2012: I would not have a problem with in vitro meat... if the taste is good & if it is (at least) as nourishing as regular meat.
    It could decrease carbon-footprint and be quite cheap to produce...

    Other than that, Insects are already a very good form of animal protein source, very healthy, nutritious and tasty.
    And it has quite the same advantages as the in vitro meats could have.
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    Jan 7 2012: This question is to vague.... what is te means of production? who is profiting? has the method been tested? assuming that the meat was say cultured natural muscle and had not been genetically modified, or if modified it had endured a long exhaustive test series, and if some portion of the profits made by selling this meat went to support the people who had depended on raising animals for meat at least for the life time of the now obsolete rancher, then I can think of no reason not to. I assume that the cost in energy and reinforces would be less than existing methods?
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      Jan 9 2012: Thanks for your response. See Timothy Sallume's response below. The site he refers to gives specific cost savings and other information that may answer your questions. Thanks.
  • Jan 6 2012: I think the real question is what wouldn't you eat. Few of us in the western world have ever really been hungry. True hunger where you have nothing to eat for long periods of time, In that case what wouldn't you eat? I have a feeling that when it came down to it, I would eat what is available. A hamburger is a hamburger when you are hungry.
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      Jan 9 2012: Amalia, you pose a second question of what wouldn't we eat if we were really hungry? The military has "survival schools" that instruct in exactly this issue. Basically living off off the land and "suviving". There are classes available in most states by survival companies. I attended one in the military and ate things not normally considered "eatable". We are lucky not to have to face that problem in the US. But the boy scout motto of "Be Prepared" is a good rule. Some food storage and a little knowledge of survival techniques is always advisable. Good luck and thanks for answering.
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    Jan 5 2012: Robert, I see you are a Winner by birth!
    The geniuses who grow this stuff won't eat it ( and you want to know if I will? Not until they do.
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    Feb 3 2012: I would like to take a few lines to tell you all how amazing this technology is. I am in agreement with Henk. It is a lot like the next phase of evolution in agriculture. I don't see any downside for vegetarians or anyone else for that matter. There is a lot of American backlash to the amount of available nutrition in modern countries. How short sighted. Unless you belong to one of these privileged countries you don't have the option of not eating meat. Is there a growing trend of people not eating meat? Arguably no. It's not really even close to catching up to the world's population growth. Listen to me. The world needs more meat in the worst possible way. Call it a genetic disorder of ours.

    I don't necessarily see it as being overly energy wasting either. It just depends on how well they can get it to grow. We'll see. It will need some heat optimally, so they'll insulate; and the circulation of broth is needed to nourish the cells; but it won't need the most energy wasting thing to grow which is light. If it passes taste tests, the value of the yields would be greater than the expenditures. We should never ignore or consider genetic innovation a waste of time and talent. It will always be something new and terrifying to antiprogressives, but progress isn't such a bad thing. Did you know there is also some attempt to genetically produce faster growing trees? What do we need to help these? Political bandwidth for policy on economic support, until it's economically sustainable.

    So just love the idea guys. Or stay outta the way. It's absolutely brilliant in my opinion. Do you think no one reads these conversations? Genetic innovations can give us the ability to save our world one day. What is needed is a good promotion after this research comes to fruition. So I hope everyone tells McDonalds to start making all their hamburgers this way. Frankenfood is just a buzz word that doesn't describe anything about the technology except that it is in fact technology.
  • Feb 1 2012: Are there any nurtritionists or doctors out there who can offer informed comment about the argument that when people are fully grown, you need NO added protein in your diet but can obtain all you need from just fruit and vegetables? I have read soundly produced argument that says that when excess of protein is excreted it drags calcium from your body with it, thus depleting skeleton and increasing risks of osteoporosis etc.
  • Jan 29 2012: George. I will try to be clearer. It would also be great if you could not deliberately misunderstand. You said it was 'disingenious to think that the proof of concept prototypes that they're making right now will be representative in anyway of whatever final product...' In reply to that point, I said I wasn't offering it up as evidence of, or assuming, a final product in its current form. The part where I said I thought it was relevant was to do with the enormous cost.

    The reason I think it's a waste of R&D is, using your terms, I think the product is, though perhaps feasible, also redundant. We don't need a lab to produce meat. But we might need it to produce meat in sufficient quantities to meet growing demand. IF WE WANT TO MEET DEMAND. I think the better answer is to work at reducing demand. The way to do this is to not only educate people as to the environmental and resource impact of the meat industry, but also to make much stricter laws relating to the humane treatment of animals. The reason demand can be as high as it is, is because meat is so cheap (especially meat supplied for fast food). But it can only be that cheap while appalling standards remain. (Yes, I watched Food, Inc recently. :)) Changing the standards will make meat more expensive, which will drive down demand. And if our concern here is the animals (as people want lab-grown meat to avoid killing animals) those standards are a great first step anyway.
  • Jan 29 2012: I have given this a lot of thought in the past year.

    There is something about me (either memetically or biologically) that can not tolerate a vegetarian lifestyle. I am not one of those "I did not claw myself to the top of the food chain to.." people... but I am descended from them. There is clearly something important about meat in the diet of most people-- and there are certainly some compounds and amino acids (importance unknown) that are not available anywhere else.

    For me, my pull for vegetarianism is not so much about the animal (though I love animals, I also sadly admit that my ancestors have bred certain animals to aspire to be great food, and my ancestors have also left me with a genetic and memetic system optimized for those animals fulfilling on their destiny), but it is in recognition that one, we are eating far more meat than we need (to that point, I am beyond overweight, and I can have as much meat as my body demands and my wallet affords: a LOT of meat), and TWO the amount of meat I am eating is taking an extraordinary amount of energy to bring to my mouth.

    I happened upon the movie "Collapse" last year. Regardless of what you think of the guy in the film, or any of the other topics, seeing the film did stun me into realizing how many calories are BEHIND the calories I actually eat. And, done irresponsibly, the ratio is hundreds or thousands to one in terms of the calories you're actually using.

    Marry that up to one gallon of gasoline being about 30,000 calories-- and it starts to get awkwardly uncomfortable.
  • Jan 28 2012: This link gives a good explantion of the details of the lab-grown meat experiment. Some facts I found relevant:
    The first lab-grown hamburger will cost around 250,000 euros ($345,000) to produce.
    "The first one will be a proof of concept, just to show it's possible," Post told Reuters..."I believe I can do this in the coming year."

    It may sound and look like some kind of imitation, but in-vitro or cultured meat is a real animal flesh product, just one that has never been part of a complete, living animal.

    Using stem cells harvested from leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, Post nurtures them with a feed concocted of sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way.

    So far he has produced whitish pale musclelike strips, each of them around 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) long, less than a centimeter wide and so thin as to be almost see-through.

    Pack enough of these together — probably around 3,000 of them in layers — throw in a few strips of lab-grown fat, and you have the world's first "cultured meat" burger, he says.

    "This first one will be grown in an academic lab, by highly trained academic staff," he said. "It's handmade and it's time- and labor-intensive. That's why it's so expensive to produce."

    Not to mention a little unappetizing. Since Post's in-vitro meat contains no blood, it lacks color. At the moment, it looks a bit like the flesh of scallops, he says.

    My original answer to the question was 'no'. After reading this article, my answer is now, 'hell, no!'
    • Jan 29 2012: Sorry for cross posting. But you posted this link above as response... and reading this post, I don't know how you can with a straight face say that this isn't intended as some sort of 'evidence against' the idea of in-vitro meat.

      But as above - it's disingenious to post this video/article as representative of something *other* than the current state of research and development. To that end - it doesn't matter how you feel about it as it currently is - because that's not the meat you'll have access to in the market.

      A more interesting discussion would rotate around the idea of - what level of progress would be required with in-vitro meat before you could seriously contemplate 1. eating it occasionally or more, 2. replacing traditional meat sources with it.

      For some, maybe yourself, it's possible that your emotional objections may always outweigh any amount of progress the meat can make - but it's still a question worth discussing in a public forum like this one.
      • Jan 29 2012: Oh my god, please listen. It WAS intended as evidence of the COST of the R&D. It was NOT intended as evidence of the final product. Because it isn't the final product. And I never said it was.

        How are my objections emotional?

        If in-vitro meat becomes my only option, I may eat it. But I eat little meat right now, so it might not be worth the cost for me. I would miss meat if it went away, but it wouldn't be overly upsetting. I don't support replacing traditional meat sources with it. I don't see the point and I have no moral objection to eating animals.
      • Jan 29 2012: "This first one will be grown in an academic lab, by highly trained academic staff," he said. "It's handmade and it's time- and labor-intensive. That's why it's so expensive to produce."

        Not a cost-effective option, and how much will need to change to make it cost effective?
        - less need for highly-trained staff,
        - less labour intensive, so will need some automated processes (to reduce the cost of handmade meat),
        - less time to produce.

        Maybe they'll get there, but how much time and how many resources will be put into that effort?
  • Jan 28 2012: I eat spam. I don't think I can consider myself picky enough to find 'untextured' vat grown meat distasteful.

    Spam is bloody fabulous btw. Especially when pan fried with some onions, eggs and tomatoes. Serve with rice, and voila - a taste sensation for the ages.
  • Jan 28 2012: Animals suffer when they are slaughtered - they feel pain and fear. If lab meat removes this pain and fear from the world then it can only be good, right?
  • Jan 28 2012: I'd certainly try it. Depending on the tast and texture I may switch. This would be an economic and health decision for me, not an ethical one.
  • Jan 27 2012: As all negatives would surely be plucked off before such a product is launched in market, proper awareness and apt. marketing can turn it a success.
    whats the harm.?
    we already are living in lab grown world.
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    Jan 27 2012: I would love it. Nobody would have to feel conflicted about eating living animals anymore.
  • Jan 27 2012: I think you morally must chose IV meat IF it is not detrimental to health of man or beast AND it requires less resources to produce than current production.

    Then there are additional potential benefits of course. Look at baby-milk. Many babies are fed artificial (IV) milk rather than the naturally produced stuff. Many reasons to do so and no reason to assume it is bad for the baby.
    I know, not right away and most babies are breast-fed at the start. But very few are breast-fed to the natural age when they transfer to other sources of nutrition.

    in a few decennia, eating field grown meat might be as exclusive as kobe-beef is now.
  • Jan 26 2012: The point with cloning or producing food from scratch is that. There is no exact to way to make sure that the molecular composition of in vitro meat will be exactly the same as the one that you buy now in the local market.
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    Jan 25 2012: Suggest once we have a reasonable non animal alternatives/substitutes we may have a moral obligation to stop growing and killing animals for food - perhaps starting with the more intelligent/Feeling animals - Whales, Sheep, Cows etc then perhaps birds, then perhaps fish, last of all might be insects etc.

    Until then, lets try to reduce suffering and quality of life where appropriate, especially in richer more developed countries. Suggest there is no excuse for anyone earning a decent income not to go free range if available etc.

    The sooner the worst of Kosher and Halal practices are stopped the better.

    The impact probably depends on how good it looks, tastes, smells, the nutritional value, and cost. Not many want to eat protein slops. Suggest sausages and hamburger might be impacted first. Then stir fries. Roast and Steak last as harder to match. Need to prove safe as well.

    I find meat, fish, poultry very tempting. But suggest many of us can reduce meat (and our cholesterol) with current vegie alternatives. I eat a lot of vegie sausages and bacon at home and tastes okay.
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      Jan 27 2012: The non-veg consumption increase at least 10 % yearly. The main reason is as people gets rich they gets money and have a choice they choose Non-veg over Veg.

      PETA has created vegan awareness . But mostly vegetarian south east and east Asia in becoming non-vegetarian as the economic growth is very high. And the meat consumption of Asia is expected to grow @ 25% at least for next 15-20 years.

      In today's world south east and eastern Asia consumes only 5% of total meat consumption though have more than 30% of world population .In 2030 south east and eastern Asia are expected to consume 35% of worlds total meat consumption.

      As the meat is growing very fast the synthetic meat will be very promising business .
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    Jan 24 2012: Impacts world wide... wow that is an intense question! I am able to answer the first question you posed in the title, "Would you eat 'in virtro' meat?" and my answer is, not knowingly.
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    Jan 22 2012: For the most part we have responded regarding the environmental impacts. Don't get me wrong, that is a great advantage to this experiment. What would be the long term advantage to space travel, colonizing another planet,
    or emergency source of food to disaster areas. Because the current process requires a modern lab it does not seem possible to project it to some of the areas that could use it the most jungles, central Africa, desert areas, etc ... however, the process will evolve and preservation methods will be developed. Star Track would be proud. Adious Huxley and his book Brave New World also touched on this yars ago just to name a few.

    So what about the alternative uses of this process. Any thoughts.
  • Jan 22 2012: If it is produced cheaply, fantastic. If not, then less animals will be given life in order to feed us, but millions will still starve. Use it to feed people, not make money.
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    Jan 22 2012: Here a video that enlightens this issue :
  • Jan 22 2012: NO THANKS!
    (Remember Olean? Margarine? Monosodium Glutamate?)
    I think this stuff will be even worse.
  • Jan 21 2012: The question would be if it is bio-ethically and morally correct. If it can save lives the scale tips one way...
  • Jan 21 2012: As long as I know that it's not unhealthy to eat. Then sure why not?

    Although I must say that this reminded me of a nice dutch comedy show. Where the guy (Hans Teeuwen) sais that (in short): While wondering through the woods have you ever told an animal to be there at the same time tomorrow?! He won't show... they are lazy! I don't really like meat.... however I to eat it out of principle!
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    Jan 21 2012: I personally wouldn't eat in vitro meat because I don't yet know what exactly goes into making it and what/how many artificial ingredients are in it. Even though I wouldn't eat it as I am not yet fully informed, I think it might help with the lack of food supply in the world.
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      Jan 22 2012: see Tony Kerstjens suggested site three comments above you. Thanks for your reply Bob
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      Jan 27 2012: Ya that's a big concern. Though it sounds great. But there may be side effects. Even it can be very rich in calories.
  • Jan 20 2012: Always thought about this since turning vegetarian 6 years ago or so.... would I eat meat if grown in a lab where no animal was harmed? May have done at the beginning, but it's now the thought of meat, the texture, the chance of poisoning if not cooked right, etc so still no. However, for those who still like to eat meat but have a conscience about the way animals have been kept/slaughtered, this sounds like a positive way forward :)
  • Jan 20 2012: I bet it would taste like chicken ;)
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    Jan 20 2012: Cool! If Ruper Sheldrake is correct, one day our "minds", which according to him are recorded into the fabric of the Universe, will be downloaded into a buff new body and we'll compare notes with the great thinkers of history who will also have been downloaded.
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    Jan 20 2012: If it was demonstrably clean, safe, and open source, probably yes. I abstain from animal products based on health and ethical concerns, although my desire for them has pretty much evaporated over the past decade or so. Neither of these need exist in vat-grown meat (or, if we're being honest, in any other form of food production).

    Realistically speaking, however, the whole industry will probably be tied up in patents and proprietary technology and enough secrecy to make a factory farm look like an open book. That's not cynicsm speaking, so much as awareness of how the biotech industry works. While secrecy itself is not overtly unethical, it does not inspire trust in me, or a desire to support it with my money.

    So I guess the answer depends on context. :)
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    Jan 19 2012: To answer the question: I would.
    I love trying new things, for me this is happiness!

    - if it's delicious AND
    - all kind of meat varieties can be produced in vitro AND
    - I would be assured that there are no more harmful substances in the meat like in the regular one AND
    - it wouldn't be much more expensive than the regular

    THEN I think I would prefer eating the in vitro one for ethical reasons.
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    Jan 19 2012: While interesting, most products super-synthesized and intended for human consumption really creepy me out. As other posters have stated, we already have other abundant sources of protein, such as soy beans, so why would it be necessary to make a McLab burger? Also, quality meat not only contains proteins, but essential fats and nutrients. While these can surely be added to make enriched 'meat', it still just sounds so plastic.

    I'll cautiously try it, and let you know if I grow a second head.
  • Jan 18 2012: Yes, and considering that this meat would be healthier and possibly cheaper i would rather eat this "kind" of meat.
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    Jan 17 2012: Sure I'd eat it... why not?
  • Jan 10 2012: It seems major meat source in the future will come from "in vitro" sources. Scientis are learning to harvest "stem cells" that will do most of the work.
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    Jan 10 2012: I agree with most of your conversation. One of the trends is that the small farmer that we relied upon years ago are dying out. Very few kids stay on the farm to take over the family business. Farms are now bank owned or as a conglomerate of interests. The bottom line for these "owners" is profit at any cost or expense. That in vitro meat is a good thing or a bad thing can be debated, however, that it is coming is a fact. We have user cities that do not produce anything. The land that once housed farms are all housing and malls now. As I say this I think of Las Vegas. Everything artifical, no real industry, no food production, etc ....

    The amazing thing about the human is that we can adjust, adapt, and over come (we got a thumb). You have added another factor to the issue. Thank you. Bob
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    Jan 10 2012: I think in the U.S. as we have moved towards mass produced food it has had an enormous negative effect in a couple of ways. For one, it has impeded on the farmers who for years have done things the old-fashioned way and have fed their animals foods that they were intended to eat. Now, we feed our beef corn instead of grass promoting the growth of e-coli in their bellies and increasing the risk it will taint the meat during slaughtering. So we wash our meat down with ammonia to deal with the deadly bacteria.

    I think that lab grown meat is just another step towards seeing how we can increase our production and not to address the root of a serious problem. Why we have moved away from cultivating healthy, unaltered meat. I think the biggest impact is the health implications of more meat.
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    Jan 9 2012: I am not actually the efficiency of meat .I do however think that meat is a luxury. We can do without .We may not want to but it is a luxury . I am from a ranching family and I eat meat, however most of my family is now vegan as they move toward a more earth friendly approach to food . Eat to live not to live to eat. I agree it can be done wiser but I am a bit turned off by anything that is altered .I am a pure food advocate and a cancer survivor .I agree there is no one place the money is wiser spent I am just saying I think we waste so much money researching things that are less important . Show me how to feed a village not make a better burger . Just my opinion .Thanks for your response I am always open to another thought on the subject .
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    Jan 9 2012: Well the impact will be tremendous economically... but the question to rise is the impact on our lives, on our health? If it will not constitute a danger for us, then why not give it a try. But given a choice between that experimental meat and natural meat, I will stick with what grows with nature; its use has been experimented for million of years and it will be available for centuries to come.
  • Jan 9 2012: I second Russell Lester's comment. I want to know more about the implications of this kind of meat.
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      Jan 9 2012: Thanks for responding. See the web site provided by Timothy Sallume below. The site give specific figures for reductions. I am not qualified to determine if these are accurate. There is a in vitro pork that has been on the market for some time. Look for that information on the web also to get you better informed. Thanks.
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    Jan 9 2012: yes
  • Jan 7 2012: I have a question. Is it possible to grow food using (and this probably is a science-fiction term) hydroponics? Or yeast growth and flavoring using chemical-fed plants? Would a strain of yeast be available for any kind of essential mineral?
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    Jan 6 2012: It's an interesting question. I've been a vegetarian for most of my life (with the exception of a few rebellious months in my teens). My reasoning has always been less of a health one and more on the grounds of ethics; for the sake of both the animals and those who go hungry when meat production is so wasteful. So for most of my dilemma's regarding meat, it might be viable, though I would approach it more as another meat-substitute then thinking of it as real meat (even though it would be).
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    Jan 6 2012:  
    Here's a better, and probably cheaper, solution (see my comments and Homaro's replies):
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    Jan 6 2012: I wouldn't eat Lab created meat simply because it is not necessary .Why would we spend money doing that research when there is so much more research needed in medical and health fields to really make a change for better ?
    • Jan 6 2012: I would disagree.
      The meat industry (and agriculture) generate a huge amount of waste. It takes an immense amount of land, generates immense amount of pollution.

      Also, there is also surprisingly little real "meat" in the stuff we eat already.
      Lab-created meat could very well generate a more efficient way to get our "meat" demand.

      That being said, this would have to be a process taken into deep consideration.
      The meat simply could not be safe, be extremely expensive in its creation, possible ethical concerns, nutritional standards, etc.

      However, the way I see it, with the rise in population, the meat industry simply isn't sustainable. Either we give up completely on meat, make the industry more efficient, or find more creative alternatives.
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      Jan 9 2012: Shannon, Albert provides a great web site that gives more details of the efficiency of the meat industry. I agree that there are other things that could be addressed that would better serve society. I recently viewed a site that said we must priortize our spending on research. To end AIDS is not a reasonable goal. There must be a starting place that would achieve that goal. There are thousands of companies looking for a cure. What if all that money were being applied to an agreed to step (ie. education and prevention). Everyone is looking for end game. I say stop looking from the top down and start looking from the bottom up. (NO PUN INTENDED). Global warming will not be stopped by Al Gore flying his polutting jet around or his two high energy use homes with no green applications. For each issue there is a starting point those are the causes I will support. The ones who has a chance to succeed and spend wisely. Thanks for responding.
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      Jan 27 2012: Hi shannon,

      "I do however think that meat is a luxury"
      Ya meat is a luxury and so is 95% of things in present life.
      We don't need a car .We can use public transport
      We dont need liquor or wine .Complete luxury
      We dont need boiled food . We can even survive having salad.

      But love to do luxury .

      " I wouldn't eat Lab created meat simply because it is not necessary .Why would we spend money doing that research when there is so much more research needed in medical and health fields to really make a change for better ? "
      So you are not eating synthetic meat because you want to protest against spending money doing such research. Not because u dont like synthetic meat. BMW / AUDI spends million of dollars to increase the top speed by 10 km. Arms and ammunition manufacturer spends Billion dollars on research. And if some company or country thinks it unethical others will do it. So your view may sounds nice but its impractical .
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    Jan 6 2012: I really don't know....but it does not have any appeal to me. I would just as soon have a good bowl of "charro" beans. I love them and good protein and fiber (:>)
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    Jan 6 2012: Yes! (as long as it's not too expensive).

    I should actually cut down on eating meat, but it's quite difficult.
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      Jan 6 2012: Have a bunch of relatives come down with colon cancer within a one-year period and you'll find your habits changing, trust me.
      • Jan 6 2012: You're both assuming that lab-grown meat has the same nutritional profile as regular meat. This will doubtlessly be the case at first, but I it seems like as it advances we'll see meats with the nutrition of wild caught fish with the texture of steak and the flavor of bacon.
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          Jan 6 2012: In which case people will probably resume eating actual meat.

          They already are having issues with the texture. What the hell texture is Beakon supposed to have?
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    Jan 5 2012: I'm vegetarian (kinda close to being vegan, really), and I chose to become so because of a whole array of ethical dilemmas which I'm sure could be side-stepped by "lab grown meat", but I doubt I'd try it. Personally, I don't know what's wrong with fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds and all the other naturally occurring foods which, ultimately, are all we need for sustenance. In fact, to suggest that they're merely "sustenance" does them an injustice; they're also delicious and an absolute joy to grow, cook and eat.

    Of course, as a vegetarian I'm looking at it from a completely different perspective than someone who eats meat.

    Surely those who eat meat don't really see anything ethically wrong with it, and therefore don't feel the need for a substitute. In fact, we already have a variety of fake "meats" (Quorn, and other products, which are not only more ethical, but also healthier), which some/many/most meat-eaters regularly I think their reaction to "lab grown meat" will be much the same.

    Also, there are many countries which are NO WHERE NEAR as forward thinking in terms of vegetarianism/veganism as my country. I was tempted to say "western countries" but I spent most of my summer in Italy and even there, many people couldn't even begin to fathom why anyone would choose not to eat meat.

    So, in countries where vegetarianism is relatively well accepted it will be included in the "vegetarian" section of supermarkets (and consequently bypassed by many meat-eaters). In countries where vegetarianism isn't a widespread concept, it might be available in specialist stores. But really, I don't think it'll make a difference. People prefer ignorance over personal sacrifice.
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    Jan 5 2012: I'm not so sure about the "in virto" meat ;-) but as for in vitro the last I heard the pork tasted like pork but had the consistency of a scallop. Which might mean the end of those horrid bacon-wrapped scallops that they always seem to serve at corporate cruise events, so that would be a big plus.

    In theory, I'd be fine with it. Hell, I already cut back a good chunk of my meat-eating habit and have replaced meat with substitutes where it really mostly relies on accurate texture (tacos, chili, I even found a decent fake seafood at the CHFA expo a couple of months ago).

    So yes - as long as it's actual meat DNA grown in a dish that hasn't been spliced willy-nilly with fruit flies and who knows what else, sure. I'd at least try it once.
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      Jan 5 2012: Gisela, do you know how nutritious fruit flies are?
      Really you don’t need anything else and with some honey it's tasteful as well.
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        Jan 5 2012: Hee! Well, you enjoy your nice bowl of fruit flies with a side of grubs (also nutritious!) and I'll try out the test-tube steak.
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    Jan 5 2012: According to one study, the impact would be: it would use 35 to 60 percent less energy, emit 80 to 95 percent less greenhouse gas, and use around 98 percent less land. (

    Would I eat lab-grown meat? Sure. Am I ready to give up steak for it? Probably not at this stage.
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    Jan 5 2012: "Sounds disgusting"....just like fake crab meat...Yuck
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      Jan 9 2012: Ya, but fake crab meat is really fish meat. This is real meat, just grown in a dish...I agree that it sounds yucky, but if we had a look at how our "real" meat is harvested and processed we'd find it yucky too. Ignorance is bliss... Probably if they start selling this in stores, people will buy it and be none the wiser.
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        Jan 9 2012: Letitia, as you say ignorance is bliss. A farmer once was quoted as saying the only thing that is not used from a pig is his oink. I spent a summer in a slaughter house and it is true that almost every part of a butchered animal is used. In food never ask what is in it and never visit the kitchen of your resturant. Thanks for answering.
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        Jan 27 2012: Ya i would love to have if it is tasty but we should know what will be the side effects and health implication.
    • Jan 29 2012: I love 'fake crab meat'. It's so sweet and tender.

      Some people want a story with their food. Some people don't care - those that want a story are more likely to at something if they're told it's 'authentic' - born of the natural earth cycle of harmony and regrowth.

      But in the mouth, in the stomach, in the gut... there are your tastebuds, and there's your body that breaks it down for nutrition. Your body doesn't care about the story - it just cares about what's actually there.