Welcome to the meat of the future: lab grown meat.

No, it’ not science fiction, and it’s not tofu burger. It is growing meat from a cell similar to how scientists grow tissue cultures, but in this case, it would be taking stem cells, manipulating them to produce muscle in tissue culture, resulting in sheets of meat that can be cut up and made into ground meat.

Jason Matheny, from New Havest, explains:

“You’d need a bunch of industrial-size bioreactors,” says Matheny. “One to produce the growth media, one to produce cells, and one that produces the meat sheets. The whole operation could be under one roof.”

The advantage, he says, is you avoid the inefficiencies and bottlenecks of conventional meat production. No more feed grain production and processing, breeders, hatcheries, grow-out, slaughter or processing facilities.

Translation: no need for breeding, growing, feeding, or butchering. No need to “waste” grain in feeding chickens or cattle, no methane emissions from excrement or passing gas. No worries about Salmonella, Bird Flu, foot and the need to dispose of parts not easily sold (e.g. feathers, hooves).

Of course, lab grown meat has a huge “yuck factor”, but as a source of protein which doesn’t require mistreating animals and killing them has some attraction to some vegetarians.

Indeed, PETA has offered one million dollars to the first one to make in vitro chicken meat that is has the taste and texture of meat, and is commercially viable.

That makes it a bit more difficult bu no impossible. It might mean growing real muscle not just unformed muscle ells in a sheet. As for commercial viability, so far estimates for the meat would be a thousand dollars a pound, which is a bit pricey.

Global warming policies are hurting meat producers, along with pressure by ecologists because of waste products polluting the water supples, animal rights activists complaining about animal cruelty, and “Fart Taxes” on cattle related methane emissions. All of these policies are making meat more expensive. So in the future, there might indeed be a market for such products.

However, the real problem is to make it easy enough for third world entrepreneurs to grow and sell, and cheap enough to sell by underpricing the regular sources of meat.

I support modern technology to produce seeds, via the green revolution, moder fish or poultry farms, or the Green revolution II, of Genetically modified crops.

The population of the earth is now foretold to hit 10 billion before it starts falling, and I figure it is better to get them food than to lament their existence and look the other way when the die of malnutrition or preventable disease.

This does not preclude organic farming, which our family does.

In a free world, you can have cheap food for the less wealthy and still produce organic rice and eggplants for the upscale market.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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