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Biotech Science

In-Vitro Muscle Cells, It's What's For Dinner 619

wanzeo writes "Within the last decade, many of us have experienced the encroachment of ethics into our mealtime. Phrases such as vegetarian, vegan, organic, bST, GMO, etc. have become part of common grocery store advertising. The most recent addition to the list of ethically charged food is in-vitro meat, or meat that was cultured in a petri dish, and was never part of a live animal. The project has been brought to fruition by Mark Post, a biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. Grown using animal stem-cells on a nutrient medium, the nearly see-through strips of muscle would need to be stacked nearly 3,000 times to approach the thickness of a burger. The practice promises to be more humane, sustainable, and efficient than conventional meats, with one analysis suggesting it would, 'use 35 to 60 percent less energy, emit 80 to 95 percent less greenhouse gas and use around 98 percent less land.' In a world where nearly half of all crop production is used to feed livestock, a move towards artificial meat may be inevitable."
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In-Vitro Muscle Cells, It's What's For Dinner

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  • Monsanto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scifiber_phil ( 630217 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:08AM (#38040994)
    Monsanto will patent it, claim real meat infringes, then make us all eat it. No labelling of fake meat will be allowed, so we won't know what we are eating. At that time maybe I'll try the frankensalmon.
  • Embrace the Future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:09AM (#38041000)

    Synthetic meat is still too expensive. This process will be optimized to a fabricated protein paste fed through a tube to power your assigned functions until you wear out and are flushed. Witness the progress of humanity.

  • No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:09AM (#38041002)
    If I want non meat protein, there's plenty of plant-based sources. If I want meat, I prefer it come from an animal. I have no qualms about killing an animal for meat. I also find sanitized supermarket packaging retarded. Trying to detach meat from the idea an animal died for it is twisted. People shouldn't hind from that fact and be respectful an animal died for the meat.
  • Ethics? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:10AM (#38041014)

    Just because PETA says something is unethical doesn't mean it is.

    There is nothing unethical about eating meat.

    There is nothing unethical about eating whale, they are about as smart as pigs.

    There is nothing unethical about eating dog or cat. It's just what you are used to.

    It is unethical to try to impose your opinions on others. I'm looking at you herbivores.

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:19AM (#38041068)

    If real meat becomes forbidden (infringes), then we'll all know we are eating fake meat, won't we?

    Unless real meat doesn't infringe, in which case you can keep eating it.

    Except that maybe you accidentally choose to eat synthetic meat because you won't notice the difference.

    Which would be kind of "mission accomplished".

  • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:30AM (#38041126)

    Probably because it's creepy and is likely to come with any number of unforeseen consequences. Plus, just because it's like meat doesn't mean that it's going to have the same effect on the body. Which could be a good thing, but then again there's all sorts of nutrients that are no longer common in our diets because the food scientists designing our meals didn't think to include them. Iodine is a common one to be deficient in around here, and that's largely because it doesn't get added to our foods along with the salt.

    A fake salmon like meat isn't likely to have any iodine in it at all.

  • Food myths (Score:1, Insightful)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:45AM (#38041220)

    People who think meat is inefficient compared to vegetable don't understand that Grazing animal use the massive tracts of un-airable land and don't require labor and oil and pesticide intensive production techniques. Water is our most precious resource and growing crops uses massive amounts of it, and the run off poisons streams. It can even leave land too salty or nutrient deprived for anything but specialized fertilizer fed crops. You can of course over graze too, as seen by the desertification of some areas. The point is that saying crop growing is always more efficient that raising cattle shows a profound misunderstanding of the earth. Eat a banana and it probably traveled 2500 miles, was grown in a chopped-down rain forest, with massive amounts of pesticide.

  • Re:Food myths (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsa ( 15680 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:58AM (#38041290) Homepage

    And what do you think all those burgers ate when they were still cows? Soja and corn that was grown especially for them. For the soja alone, massive amounts of rainforest are cut down in countries like Brazil every year.

  • Re:Food myths (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phulegart ( 997083 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @11:59AM (#38041298)

    Grazing animal use the massive tracts of un-airable land and don't require labor and oil and pesticide intensive production techniques.

    Unfortunately, these same Grazing animals don't graze any more, and we have to bring the food to them. Oh, sure, there are "Free Range" animals, but the meat produced from them is more expensive. The majority of the meat produced from these Grazing Animals does require labor and oil and pesticide... because we must grow the food for these animals, harvest the food for these animals, and transport the food for these animals. That requires pesticide, labor, and oil.

    Thus meat production *IS* more inefficient than growing vegetables, because it involves the process *OF* growing vegetables, plus a whole lot more.

    Ok, ok... so Hay isn't any kind of vegetable you or I would eat. But it is still sown, grown, harvested and transported.

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by broken_chaos ( 1188549 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @12:22PM (#38041410)

    I'm actually fine with this idea of 'fake meat', as long as it's done well. If it tastes and behaves similarly to 'real meat', and is made from actual real animal cells... I'm just fine with the idea. I'd be more worried about genetically modified meat -- but this stuff is not modified in that way. It's just cells grown in a non-standard incubation system (i.e., a lab dish, as opposed to a sack of other meat cells).

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scifiber_phil ( 630217 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @12:33PM (#38041482)
    I realize that if all meat was synthetic, there would be no need to label it as such. I was just referencing the fact that in Pennsylvania and other states, there was a market for milk from cows not being given growth hormone. In Pennsylvania, the secretary of agriculture was set to disallow the labelling of milk as being free of growth hormone. There was enough pushback from those wanting to buy growth hormone-free milk and those just wanting to know what they were drinking to force the secretary to backtrack on the order. I was angry and still am angry that a state official was comfortable hiding what was in our food for the sake of lobbying interests. I was just trying to make the point that we are being force-fed GM foods, and in most cases, there have been no long term studies as to safety. I was trying to make humorously the point that GM foods are being rammed down our throats whether we like it our not, and regardless of safety concerns. Call me crazy, but I still want to make my own life choices, and not have the government and corporations make them for me. Just for the record, in food, "you won't notice the difference" does not equate to safe to eat. Safe to eat is actually the most important part of "mission accomplished".
  • by jpapon ( 1877296 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @01:27PM (#38041772) Journal
    It's just a lie. There's absolutely no reason for McDonald's to mix together meat from different continents. Not only would it be stupid since it would make it all but impossible to track down where tainted meat originated from, but it would be more expensive than just buying local beef.
  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @01:32PM (#38041806)

    It is impossible to practice ethical dentistry/medicine because it always causes some pain? No. Well you must be a moron then. Pain is part of life. It is also part of food's life.

    It is impossible to live life without causing environmental damage. Please kill yourself (without producing any greenhouse gases). It is the only ethical option based on your stated position.

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @01:56PM (#38041984)

    Minimize your damage and off yourself. Moron.

    Environmental damage != unethical.

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by green1 ( 322787 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @02:03PM (#38042018)

    Much easier to control for exposure to chemicals, diseases, and other toxins in a lab than it is in free ranging animals....

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @02:05PM (#38042024)
    If this meat were to hit the market, the stuff you buy would not be made in a lab. It would be made in a factory. Your current meat is processed in a factory too. The fear that there would be increased chance of exposure to hazardous chemicals is irrational.
  • by NicknamesAreStupid ( 1040118 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @02:20PM (#38042134)
    . . . it will be sold. There is no morality on the bottom line.
  • Re:Monsanto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @03:42PM (#38042682)
    We've been safely eating genetically modified foods for millennia. It's a bit bizarre that we somehow choose to label the latest method of modifying animal or plant genetics as "GM" but not the rest, giving many the entirely false impression that the bread and steak and other foodstuffs they and their ancestors have been eating for generations aren't genetically modified. But then, in a world where people ask, "When did wild poodles roam the Earth?" I suppose it's unsurprising. Sad, but unsurprising...
  • Re:Monsanto (Score:1, Insightful)

    by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @04:01PM (#38042776)

    If these foods are safe and wholesome, what is the problem with labelling them?

    Since almost all the food we eat is genetically modified, it would be pointless to label it as such. Merely listing "beef", "wheat", "corn", or whatever on the ingredients label is sufficient, as anyone who cares ought to no none of these species are natural in their present form.

    Why genetically modify the most important grains and foods first where if problems later show, we possibly have destroyed our most important foodstuffs? Does that seem wise?

    We've been doing this since the dawn of recorded history. It should be obvious why we tinker with the genetics of the foods most important to us: it's what's most important to us, and thus what we want to see improved the most, and will get the most benefit from. Wise? Our civilization as it exists today wouldn't be here if we hadn't done it, and if history is any judge, it would be foolish not to.

    Destroying our most important foodstuffs would be foolish, of course, but we're certainly not going to do that. But that's irrelevant, since that's not even in the cards here.

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suomynonAyletamitlU ( 1618513 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @04:41PM (#38043026)

    It's also much easier to detect toxins in a lab, let alone track down the source.

    If free-range animals suddenly start coming back as having say lead exposure, you have to look in the water, the wind, any plants they might have eaten, any fertilizers you may have used on any of those plants, any feed you gave them--and even once you find the source, you have to find a way around the problem, since farms aren't what you call mobile. Compared to that, looking at the tools you put in the lab to produce the product (also known as "quality control") isn't exactly going out of your way.

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @04:45PM (#38043054)

    I was just making the point that lobbying interests and governments are ramming GM foods onto the market with the safety of the public being secondary

    That's happening in the same sense that they're ramming vaccines into hospitals without checking their safety. Sure, Monsanto and the others are pushing their products, just like Apple pushes iPads and Toyota pushes the Prius (of course, when any other company does it, its business, but when Monsanto does it, its a conspiracy), but that doesn't mean the science isn't there. It [] is. [] We can sit here and talk about Monsanto and agribusiness all day long. That doesn't change the science.

    If these foods are safe and wholesome, what is the problem with labelling them?

    Nothing. It would be nice if there was a 'Biotech by choice' label. Anyone is free to label any food as containing GE ingredients, not containing them, or not labeling anything at all. They same way they're free to label or not label their produce as being produced with grafting, hybridization, somaclonal variation, sport selection, embryo rescue, chemical/radiation mutagenesis, induced polyploidy, wide crosses, marker assisted selection, ect. You might as well say if those things are so great (and they are), why aren't they labeled?

    If you're talking mandatory labeling, then all of the above aren't labeled for the same reasons. It's still the same plant. For the three types of GE crop currently on the market (insect resistant, herbicide tolerant, and virus resistant), the GE plant is substantially equivalent to its non-GE isogenic counterpart. Sure, you can say that GE is different, and you'd be right, that's why we have a different word of it. But is isn't different enough, it is still just another method of changing the genes. You could say that genes don't go from species to species in nature, but then you'd both be wrong and making an irrelevant point. If anything, that would be reasoning to not label GE crops, since now you know exactly what genetic changes you make. I grew purple broccoli this year and ate a bunch of pink fleshed apples, and I don't have a damned clue what protein it had that produced those pigments, and those are just the visible phenotypes which doesn't even get into all the things you can't easily see. But if I had a GE corn that had the gene for Cry1Ab in it, I'd know exactly what produced its trait. Or compare the case of the Lenape potato with the University of Ghent's GE potatoes. Both were designed to be resistant to pests. The Lenape was produced with a wide cross to get resistance genes from wild potatoes, the GE ones had the genes directly moved. The Lenape brought the genes for producing a dangerous amount of glycoalkaloids and made people sick. The GE ones were destroyed by ecoterrorists. Yet if we mandated labeling, only the safe one would need to have to be labeled as being somehow different. That is simply idiotic. The process is not nearly as relevant as the product.

    And furthermore, what purpose would such a label serve? Would you still buy it? You and I both know damn well that the only reason anti-GMO groups push for those labels is to scare people and undermine the credibility of genetic engineering. It's like the labels creationists were trying to push on science books stating 'Evolution is only a theory.' Sure, it was true enough, but all it did was undermine the credibility of evolution, which was exactly what it was supposed to do. Why did a fact undermine science? It was deceptive due to public ignorance. Same thing here. Maybe had anti-science groups like Greenpeace and vested interest groups like the Organic Consumers Association not spend the last two decades misinforming the public things might be a little dif

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @06:36PM (#38043570)
    What is intellectually dishonest is to call the place it would be made a "lab", and imply that this indicates the presence more hazardous chemicals than where food is processed now. As it is now, there are hazardous chemicals in virtually every single factory, and virutally every single restaurant, grociery store and farm for that matter.
  • by definate ( 876684 ) on Sunday November 13, 2011 @08:56PM (#38044302)

    This sounds awesome. I love meat, best part of any meal, however I don't like the whole killing cattle thing, but it's a necessary evil for me, as I'm not willing to give it up. However, this would be the best of both worlds.

    It will be able to be mass manufactured in large quantities, and hopefully cheaply. It reduces energy usage. Reduces carbon emissions. Reduces land usage.

    These are all HUGE wins. As long as food companies get serious on it (which they likely would), then you can get flawless, tasty steaks, for cheap as fuck. I don't care if it's not "authentic", I wan't my pseudo-lamb meat!

    My guess is it would take a while before they were able to get it up to the mass manufacturing stage, and even further before they're producing meat with the nice tasting fat, and other impurities. Though, once it's at the mass manufacturing stage, people will start eating it, mainly people who like gamey meat though.

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