Monday, March 27, 2006

Move over bread maker, I need some more counter space...

Well then... This article to say the least is interesting. Imagine a world in which all the cattle ranching activities of Brokeback Mountain occurred on your counter, instead of Cowboy country. Now I don't mean culturally oppressed homosexuals discovering their inner truth, I mean growing meat (No that isn't a euphemism either, but it may be an attempt at a pop culture reference to drive website traffic *wink*.)

Erin has told me that animal cell cultures are difficult at best to work with, but that hasn't stopped the mad progress of science. Truly this is the work of Dr Frankenstein and the Iron Chief, IRONically mashed together into some Frankenstein like monster. These folks are proposing growing meat, not like a meat tree or anything so bizarre, no, a little counter top appliance that grows animal cells without the animal. I can't imagine the growth rate for the counter top version of this appliance could say, feed a family of four on prime rib every night. But an industrial "meat-factory" might.

I suppose this raises some ambiguity over the morals of eating meat that in fact an animal may never have been injured for (well perhaps a quick muscle core sample, but who hasn't had one of those before...)

Now you might argue that while no animals will have to die to make your meal, it may do away with the entire animal husbandry industry, except for 'renewable' animal products like eggs, and milk.

Now apparently this synth-meat is being prepared and eaten by scientists, and I really can't imagine that there would be anything wrong with it (taste wise,) it just raises a meaty issue, that leaves this carnivore with a funny taste in his mouth.

I suspect the commercialization of this is decades off, but environmentally it is a pretty huge deal. The beef and pork industries are pretty rough environmentally from the point of emissions, and waste. The veggie-folk have been arguing for years the amount of wasted plant energy required so that one can eat a steak. Never mind the wholesale deforestation of the rain forest. So if we can grow meat of equal, or better quality at home, or in a regional factory, I imagine it can be down with a lot more efficiency.

I think this also raises the possibility of reducing malnutrition in third world countries. If the land can't support cattle for example, it may be possible to support a meat factory. Which equals jobs, and a food source, in the third world countries.

Anyways this is all weird stuff, and I think it will make Erin happy, as one can imagine that grown meat will be devoid of 'squeakers.' Which I will leave for her to define.



Jennith said...

I'm not sure if you have read Frank Herbert's Dune Series, however, they propose and interesting (perhaps disturbing is a better word) for growing meat and organs and all sorts of animal stuff. I believe the concept slig fresh from the axotal tanks is maybe just a bit short of being appatizing.



Unknown said...

That explains the articles reference:
While the idea of growing meat for space travel is fairly common in science fiction novels, NASA has since pulled funding for lab-grown meat.

Since I hadn't read Dune, I was like whaaaaat?

I agree, I'm not totally appatized by the concept.