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Biotech The Almighty Buck Science

PETA Abandons $1 Million Prize For Artificial Chicken 191

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the peta-decides-eating-people-is-fine dept.
sciencehabit writes "Don't expect an artificial chicken in every pot anytime soon. Since 2008, the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered $1 million to anyone able to create a commercially viable artificial meat from growing chicken cells. But although scientists are making progress toward artificial hamburgers, even a 2-year extension from the original deadline of 2012 wasn't enough to lure applicants for PETA's prize."
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PETA Abandons $1 Million Prize For Artificial Chicken

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  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:08AM (#46394645) Homepage

    They've dangled a $1 million prize in front of everybody, with an impossible deadline, and when science actually does start coming close to earning it, they kill it.
    That's chicken.

    • by jrumney (197329)
      Science isn't close to making a competitive substitute for chicken. They've made a hamburger that cost over $500k, which isn't even close to competitive with Wagyu Beef in price, and judging from the response of those who ate it, barely competitive with a McDonalds ammonium-hydroxide patty in taste. Given that a typical broiler chicken only eats about 2.5 times its body weight in feed over its short lifetime, making a synthetic meat that can compete will be a hard task that will most likely take decades.
      • by Sun (104778)

        Do you have any citation for the taste claim? From what I heard, taste was actually pretty good.

        Here's what I have (from wikipedia [wikipedia.org]):

        There is really a bite to it, there is quite some flavour with the browning. I know there is no fat in it so I didn't really know how juicy it would be, but there is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, it's not that juicy, but the consistency is perfect. This is meat to me... It's really something to bite on and I think the look is quite similar.

        Shachar

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Do you have any citation for the taste claim? From what I heard, taste was actually pretty good.

          No, that's not what you read. The taste was intense, but nothing was said about it being intensely good. The texture was lauded, but the flavor was only mentioned. English is not your strong suit. Don't try to interpret it for us.

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          'Bite' usually means an acidic or sour taste. That is not something most people are looking for in hamburger. Add in the fact that it has an 'intense' flavor and I don't see how you could say it was good.

          • I think he meant that it had a good texture when you bite into it. Like it didn't fall apart or was soggy or something.
    • It mentioned in the sublinked article [sciencemag.org] that PETA had actually provided for a research fellowship. That involves actually giving out money to promote research. A two pronged approach seems reasonable in theory: give money directly to research, but dangle a prize out there to attract attention to the goal and attract more money than you would have directly.

      Lets be honest, if there's one thing PETA is very effective at, it's PR. If there's another thing PETA is good at, it's getting more money flowing.
  • As I sometimes say to my evil black cat when she gets a bit crazy and decides to sink her claws into me, "Cat, the other white meat." So far she hasn't worked.

    • Try explaining to your cat what happened, or did not happen, to Schrödinger's Cat.

      It might, or might not, work.

      Anyway, the UK used to have some artificial food stuff called Turkey Twizzlers that were kinda sorta artificial. But celebrity twat chef Jamie Oliver made a fuss about them, so they got banned from school lunches. Kids seemed to like them with chips (fries), though.

      • by cyborg_zx (893396)

        Anyway, the UK used to have some artificial food stuff called Turkey Twizzlers that were kinda sorta artificial.

        I don't think they were artificial in any way - not any more than any other food - they were just made from all the bits of meat swept off the floor at Bernard Matthew's factory and that offended the sensibilities of the do-gooder middle class who are always shocked and appalled at what the working classes eat.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Or, because they don't think the working classes should be forced to eat the bits of meat swept off the floor of a factory because it's all they can afford.

          Because, really: [dailymail.co.uk]

          Researchers in Mississippi examined chicken nuggets at two different fast-food chains and found that only about half of the nuggets were made of muscle meat
          The rest of the nuggets were made of other chicken parts like fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones and cartilage

          that's pretty nasty stuff.

          • by cyborg_zx (893396)

            Or, because they don't think the working classes should be forced to eat the bits of meat swept off the floor of a factory because it's all they can afford.

            Not really. It's just a part and parcel of how "mission doc"'s work.

            This pretty much sums it up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

            that's pretty nasty stuff.

            Why exactly other than a feeling that you don't like offal?

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              It's not a question of me not liking offal (I don't eat meat, so I wouldn't eat it anyway).

              Offal is organ meats, which still have nutritional value. But the blood, bone, cartilage, skin, beaks feet and bums ... that's not offal, that's awful.

              I'd be less concerned about using gizzards and hearts than the junk they grind into a paste for these things.

              • It's not a question of me not liking offal (I don't eat meat, so I wouldn't eat it anyway).

                Offal is organ meats, which still have nutritional value. But the blood, bone, cartilage, skin, beaks feet and bums ... that's not offal, that's awful.

                I'd be less concerned about using gizzards and hearts than the junk they grind into a paste for these things.

                I'll pass on the blood pudding and black sausage, but some of that stuff is what jello is made of. And pork cracklings are the next best thing to bacon when it comes to meat candy.

                • by cyborg_zx (893396)

                  Exactly - gstoddart may very well choose not to eat any meat but the idea that because one considers a part of an animal "icky" implies that they are in any way fundamentally "bad" for human health is nothing more than bad reasoning - the same sort of bad reasoning that says slapping "organic" on a label makes the food fundamentally "good" for human health.

    • As I sometimes say to my evil black cat when she gets a bit crazy and decides to sink her claws into me, "Cat, the other white meat." So far she hasn't worked.

      (Cat) "Human, the other fish meat."

    • Chicken of the rail yard.
  • Ah PETA... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:23AM (#46394675) Homepage

    Killing 90% of all the animals they take in while claiming to be an "ethical" organization. [dailymail.co.uk] The sooner the sink into the dustbin of history along with various other wingnut organizations the better.

    • by fermion (181285)
      If this is true or not, it reminds me of the sacrifice of the giraffe in Copenhagen. Now, I am sure that many of us would rather live in captivity than be dead, but speaking for me captivity would not be such a good life. Here is the thing. I choose to minimize the number of animals that are necessary for me to kill to live. It is a choice and I don't expect others to make the same choice. I realize that some people think it their right to maximize the destruction. That is OK. But, unlike those that
  • by ReallyEvilCanine (991886) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:38AM (#46394691) Homepage
    The prize was bogus to begin with, as explained in this Slate article from 2008 [slate.com]. In short, it wouldn't be paid out unless the contestant was selling a ton of the stuff in stores and restaurants across 10 states over three months... at the same price as real chicken.

    Science prizes are supposed to encourage development of things not yet commercially viable; this was a phony small tip for someone already successful. "Phony", because even if someone had the breakthrough needed on the day after this was announced, there's no way in hell that it could be approved for use and on market shelves in time to meet even the extended deadline.

    And then there were the contest requirements, including full disclosure of ingredients and methods (trade secrets), carte blanche use of any- and everything related for PeTA's promotional purposes, rules subject to change without notice, and so on.

    This was never a serious offer, just serious marketing, something PeTA mastered long ago. This "prize" retraction just got them some more free air time and, no doubt, some new members & donations... saith an older and hopefully wiser former member & supporter.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:04AM (#46394753) Journal

      it wouldn't be paid out unless the contestant was selling a ton of the stuff in stores and restaurants across 10 states over three months... at the same price as real chicken.

      Wow, you're not kidding. If you've got that, you've got revenue much higher than $1million, and are probably readying for a billion dollar IPO.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Alternatively, they genuinely thought we had a meat replacement ready to go and were just refusing to use it out of pettiness or evil. Given the way PETA talk about their ideological opponents it seems alarmingly plausible to me.

  • Why, oh why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexhs (877055) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @03:47AM (#46394719) Homepage Journal

    Aren't chicken nuggets artificial enough already ?

    • by davester666 (731373) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:17AM (#46394787) Journal

      *may have once been in close proximity to a real dead chicken.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Oh, it's made from '100% real chicken'. It's just not "meat" in any sense most of us would recognize.

      You take all the leftover parts, puree them, add fillers and binders, stick 'em back together -- it's just the parts of the chicken with little or no nutritional value.

      They can still call it chicken, and it isn't artificial. But if someone gave you a pile of what it really is (either before or after they grind it up), you sure wouldn't eat it.

  • impossible deadline to create something which will be entirely too expensive to manufacture and will have a very limited market given the price of a real chicken is only a few dollars.
  • Efficency? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Blaskowicz (634489) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:11AM (#46394773)

    I have trouble believing artificial meat would be remotely competitive in terms of nutrients use and various supporting chemical agents, energy inputs, costs of installation, maintenance and even the need for an artificial immunological system.

    Chicken are incredibly efficient, and their eggs are even more efficient, this is reflected in the low price of the meat and eggs. Yeah I've had a philosophy that when fossil fuels aren't directly involved, cheaper is mostly synonymous with ecological.
    It's possible that successful artificial meat on a massive scale would lead to more resource depletion and more global warming, in my mind. It would perhaps create incredibly resistant, "superbug" viruses or bacteria. I'm not terribly concerned with killing chicken in that scheme.

    What certainly could be done is regulation to give way more space for the hen / chicken, small tariff on imports from countries that don't have a strong enough regulation yet. Yes, regulations, I hope that doesn't sound too evil and bureaucratic (weird how digiliently global regulations on IP are made up and applied yet libertarian corporate overlords don't bitch about them).

    • by Alejux (2800513)
      First of all, what may be expensive now, could be much cheaper than actually raising chickens in a few decades. It's just a matter of perfecting the methods of mass production. Second of all, you missed the whole point of making artificial chickens, which is to avoid cruelty. 99% of the chickens consumed in the world are not happy chickens that roam around free in their pens, but rather they're raised their entire lives in little cubicles. This type of cruelty will no longer be needed if we're able to j
  • Well, yeah. Not that I'm sure a million bucks wouldn't be useful to SOMEONE.

    But for the kinds of heavy-duty R&D and vetting required for food products? That's a drop in the bucket.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @06:45AM (#46395127)
    If you want a chicken like texture then eat quorn. It tastes remarkably close and has a similar texture. It's not so good as a substitute for other kinds of meat though. Not that I have any qualms about eating meat but some vegetarian alternatives are quite nice in their own right and just for a bit of variety.
    • Quorn is fine just so long as you're not violently allergic to it [huffingtonpost.com] and realise that it's artificially fortified because it is naturally low on vitamins and minerals.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        People are violently allergic to lots of things. People are allergic to soy too. I'm not sure how it matters for people who are NOT allergic and a casual reading of the evidence suggests that the CSPI is vastly inflating the risk possibly due to a conflict of interest.
  • by MrShaggy (683273)

    Mock Bock??

  • This is the true reason the prize went unclaimed: A lonely researcher from a poor religiously vegetarian family from the South Indian town of Saivakkadu developed such a chicken and was about to claim the prize. But Tyson food spies found out about it, bought the invention from the inventor by out bidding PETA and have rolled the process into production some three years ago. Suddenly all those animal cruelty sneak videos from the chicken farms reduced greatly in volume. Coincidence? I think not. Tyson finds
  • The chickens they mass produce today are artificial. They're so full of synthetic hormones and other chemicals they grow to 5 pounds or more in 6 weeks. I used to raise chickens when I was a kid and the average chicken breast in the store today weighs almost as much as an entire fryer from my flock used to. It's incredible. I flipped through a poultry catalog and they have things like "brandX." BrandX has to have special supplements in it's feed so their legs don't break because they weigh too much too

  • You can bet that as soon as some inventor hands a plate of vat-grown chicken to PETA and claims the prize, that PETA's general membership will turn it down as being "artificial." The foodies will spurn it for the same reason, no matter how good the taste becomes, and will have loads of fun ridiculing it in the fashion-magazine columns and on their obscure little cable channels.

    When such meats are made, they will appeal to people who are concerned specifically about the ethics of factory farming, and

  • Have they talked to fast food companies? I'm pretty sure some of the stuff they sell isn't really meat.

  • When we were young, Bernie's Deli was down the block
    (Ooh ooh ooh ooh)
    He made a great liver pâté
    (You know he did, you know he did, you know he did)
    But if there's one thing in this world that I like better
    Than a corned beef on rye

    It's Chicken Pot Pie
    Chicken Pot Pie

    (chorus of chicken-cluck imitations)

    Keep your crummy appetizers
    Don't want no turnip-flavored fries
    Or mustard pizza squares
    Sorry but they don't compare!

    (chicken-clucks)

    (instrumental)

    He made a great tuna soufflé

  • It would be worth a ticket to see PETA protest leather at the annual motorcycle festival.
  • They've been brow-beating Americans to stop eating meat so those who were, in one way or another, influenced by that campaign turned to chicken when what PETA really wanted was for everyone to become a miserable vegan. I guess they missed the memo that explained that PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals.

  • There's a joke site about setting up a cloned-celeb-meat sausage co:

    http://motherboard.vice.com/en... [vice.com]

  • If we stop eating chickens, what would we do with the ones we have? No farmer is going to feed them for no purpose. There are no natural habitats for them. If you stop eating chicken and eggs, it would be species genocide.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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