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Biotech

In Vitro Grown Meat 'Nearly Possible' 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-eat-greens,-food-eats-greens dept.
Bruce66423 writes "An article at The Guardian discusses the prospects for food from radically different sources than the ones we're used to. 'Sweet fried crickets' anyone? Quoting: '... artificial steak is still a way off. Pizza toppings are closer. The star of the Dutch research into in-vitro meat, Dr Mark Post, promised that the first artificial hamburger, made from 10bn lab-grown cells, would be ready for "flame-grilling by Heston Blumenthal" by the end of 2012. At the time of writing it is still on the back burner. Post (who previously produced valves for heart surgery) and other Dutch scientists are currently working over the problem of how to turn the "meat" from pieces of jelly into something acceptably structured: an old-fashioned muscle. Electric shocks may be the answer. ... The technological problems of producing the new hi-tech foods are nothing compared to the trouble the industry is having with the consumers – the "yuck factor," as the food technology scientists across the world like to put it. Shoppers' squeamishness has turned the food corporations, from whom the real money for R&D will have to come, very wary, and super-secretive about their work on GM in America.'"
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In Vitro Grown Meat 'Nearly Possible'

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  • Speaking as a vegan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:56AM (#42494257) Homepage

    I don't get the yuck factor.

    To me a slaughtered animals is about as yucky as it can be. Even more so when combined with the slaughter house And even more so if you consider some things like the floors and skinn processing.

    There's also the hanging of the meat and for instance things like hams which have hanged around to develop flavour or whatever for three (?) years and such. I guess they keep the flies out but it looks very old and "half-rotten" with black spots and ugly surface.

    Imho something fresh rather than an old body stored long after death seem fresher and less discusting. Scavaging isn't my idea of fresh and little yuckiness.

    Something grown in a clean environment (though of course the bodies of the animals are likely good at keeping themself clean except for some parasites and such) imho seem less yucky and if you've got some compassion for others that's even better.

    What I personally wonder is if it's still grown in bouillon made of animals because then the difference isn't all to big. You still need to kill animals and use them in the process. But then again they likely could use some scraps to make that one to get better effectiveness.

    For me personally there may still be some mental issue due to what it is even if no animal had to die and the cells wasn't grown on an animal based diet/medium. That may not make much sense though, and having a protein based staple for your diet would be very convenient.

  • Ethics for veggies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:48AM (#42494445) Homepage Journal
    As a vegetarian for the last 40-odd years this would certainly pose an ethical question for me - could I eat it?
    Probably yes, as it's not a part of the corpse of an animal and presumably no animal has suffered or been exploited in its manufacture. But in practice no, because What's the Point!? I ate meat until my late teens and don't miss it at all. I enjoy a very tasty, healthy and nutritious diet and that's what really matters.
  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:53AM (#42494473)
    Wrong. You stereotype a whole country. Japanese eat things that they have been eating for decades or centuries, a lot of that may look strange to Westerners. Recently, Japanese have been eating a lot of western food. Den Fujita [wikipedia.org] opened the 1st Mac Donalds in Japan in 1971. Because it was tasting better? Because "Fujita was amazed by its efficiency and popularity [in the US]" - read "a better way to make money". To sell his hamburgers, he said to the Japanese

    The reason Japanese people are so short and have yellow skins is because they have eaten nothing but fish and rice for two thousand years... If we eat McDonald's hamburgers and potatoes for a thousand years we will become taller, our skin become white, and our hair blonde

    Due to the heavy impact of the press and TV on the Japanese, this helped a lot. Price as a reason? For your information, for the price of a cheeseburger you get here in Japan a very decent and cooked traditional Japanese meal (Ootoya [wikipedia.org] TBT, Yoshinoya [wikipedia.org] ...). Back to the story, Japanese will not eat "anything", unless TV endorses it. If TV comes to that and you want to compare this "new meat" to something: compare it to the western hamburgers - and certainly not to the traditional Japanese food that has been eaten in Japan for a very long time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:57AM (#42494487)

    Errrr, there's a huge assumption in there that's unlikely to be fulfilled in real life. The current lab grown meat is in a research phase, and is therefore subject to clean room lab conditions where dollars/kilo are not a concern. You're assuming that the clean room conditions will extend to the mass market exploitation of the product: your assumption is that there will be no additives (really, really unlikely as yields are likely to be the biggest factor, and hence any yield enhancing agent you can imagine will be acceptable), and no waste (as is usual with breakthroughs such as this, I suppose the polution creation will be moved to somewhere else in the production chain, rather than removed).

    You know, you could grow perfectly healthly, perfectly clean, healthy animals with a 24x7 medical care and monitoring, a personal trainer and hospital level cleaning. We don't because at the end of the day it's the price that counts, not the quality. We're generally so far away from the production that we can no longer judge the quality at all, only the price.

  • Re:why not use meat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Master Control P (655590) <[ejkeever] [at] [nerdshack.com]> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:32AM (#42494849)
    If the area currently devoted to making feed for ruminants weren't needed for that, we wouldn't be farming grass and alfalfa on it now would we?

    Regardless, you can't deny that the biological growth process is staggeringly inefficient from an energy in / energy in biomass standpoint. There's a reason why prey:predator biomass relationships tend to fan in something like 100:1 per level. It's possible given a large effort to farm a whole bunch of meat, but we're doing severe damage to water tables, river systems and everything within 100 miles of the Mississippi river delta due to farm runoff, a significant part of which is making feedstock for animals.

    And no, I'm not confused about why I have sharp front teeth and I enjoy a good steak'n'taters as much as anyone. I simply see a situation whose energy/resource consumption is a Bad Idea (tm) in an era of imminent resource constraints. We should eat meat, but a whole lot less would be much healthier.
  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@@@nexusuk...org> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:51AM (#42494947) Homepage

    If you're a vegetarian for that specific reason it would be quite hypocritical to eat "animal-free meat" that was developed from the suffering of all those poor cuddly cows, mice and rats...

    Seems like an extension of the sunk cost fallacy - if the cost has already been paid, refusing to use the product doesn't really make sense.

    TBH, this is something that really winds me up about vegitarians - If you want to reduce animal suffering by not eating meat, or reduce environmental impact, then fair enough. But refusing to eat anything that has been grilled on the same bars as meat makes no sense - no extra suffering is going to happen because someone didn't wash the grill pan between cooking their bacon and your vegi-burgers. Similarly, flatly refusing to eat some meat that is only going to be thrown away if no one eats it is completely nonsensical. The best way to reduce your environmental impact is to use as much of the produce as possible, rather than refusing to eat left over meat and grilling up some vegi-burgers instead!

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @10:31AM (#42495605)

    You might be right - but it's your choice whether to eat that sort of meat, or not. I'm prepared to pay more - sometimes a lot more - for free-range meat.

    My guess is that this choice will go away very quickly once synthmeat becomes practical. It will become socially unacceptable to kill any actual animals for food at that point, even if the vat-grown stuff isn't as tasty at first.

    Not saying that this will be a good or bad thing, just that it's inevitable.

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