(NaturalNews) In vitro meat is one of the latest attempts from scientists and bio-engineers to create a substitute for traditional meat production. The technology for creating meats through meat cultures in vitro is far from perfected, but enthusiasm for the effort is plentiful. Support for cultured meat technology comes from a wide spectrum of interests as well.
Many vegans are stepping forward in endorsement of the pseudo meats citing the cruelty of traditional animal meat production, the use of hormones, antibiotics and ultimately the slaughter of millions of animals yearly.
Animal rights advocates have also stepped forward in support of this technology. In fact, PETA has gone so far as to offer a reward of a million dollars to any entity that can develop an in vitro meat product that can be cost effectively mass produced.
The scientists and backers of this technology suggest that a burgeoning population makes developing in vitro meats a necessity for a litany of reasons. For instance, traditional animal husbandry requires vast tracts of land, and stores of water.
Livestock also contributes to global warming. Pundits suggest that in vitro meat will be safer and healthier. Their reasoning includes the argument that cholesterol and fat can be regulated during production. In addition, because the product will be produced under strict quality control, food borne bacteria will be significantly reduced.
How is in vitro meat produced?
A simple explanation of in vitro meat
1. Harvesting of cells from a healthy donor animal
2. Separation of cells from tissue - Primarily muscle cells and stem cells
3. Cultivating cells in a nutritious solution
4. Bulking newly formed tissue up
5. Mincing for meat product
That sounds easy enough. What's the problem? Apparently there are a few. For example, though there has been success in making in vitro
meat strips suitable for mincing, the appearance and taste of the meat is less than appealing up to this point.
The technology is far from economical at this stage for a variety of reasons. For instance, much of the current production of in vitro meat relies on using non animal based nutrients to grow the cells in. Animal products can't be used in the process because the cells can't digest animal derived nutrients themselves. Instead solutions must contain nutrients from other sources such as plant and microorganisms. This result in a slower process, so mass production is not available at this point.
Though in vitro meat production doesn't require the use of genetically modified organisms, the idea of using enhanced meat is being discussed as a means to speeding up the production process. In addition, the use of growth hormone has also been considered by some researchers.
Engineered meat may help meet the high demand world
wide as traditional ranching and farming flounders under the demand, but there are unanswered questions with the use of these products. For instance, how will in vitro meat stack up nutritionally to natural beef?
Will in vitro meats be affordable especially to people in third world countries or to poor people in developed nations? Will GMOs and growth hormones be necessary for the production of this food
, and who will have control over this new technology?
Meat consumption may not necessarily be essential to survival, but animal products remain one of the most efficient ways of acquiring certain nutrients such as B12, and iron. This is especially important for areas with limited agricultural opportunities and for cultures that rely heavily on animal products for sustenance.
In vitro meats are also a concern for people who are concerned about turning over control of the world s food supply to a handful of agribusinesses. For specialized food production such as in vitro products may be cost prohibitive, and traditional family owned agribusinesses will likely go bankrupt.
The world has an enormous appetite for animal products and that combined with a population explosion means that we will have to look for solutions that are affordable, safe and nutritious. If we are unable to do so, control of the world's food supplies will slip away from individuals, families, regions, and even independent nations and fall into the hands of large agribusinesses and corporations. Even more disturbing will be having no control whatsoever in what goes in to the foods we eat.
Furthermore relinquishing control over what foods we eat and how it is produced sets a dangerous president as well. For instance, will we be penalized if we choose to raise our own foods, or buy natural or organic foods produced by small companies?
Will the in vitro meat industry be required to label their foods for any genetic modifications they deem necessary? Science has made huge contributions to food production and feeding the population.
However, science shouldn't rule the world; rather it should enhance and support the population and their will. Here is a quote from the web page of The Centre for Society and Genomics, a think tank heavily invested in in vitro meat based in the Netherlands, for your consideration:
"Genomics can lead to better quality foodstuffs. What's more, genomics research can contribute towards a personalized diet, leading to a healthier lifestyle. But are these promises not too rash, considering the complex relationship between food and health? And what if the knowledge and opportunities are available, but consumers refuse to follow the lifestyle that is good for them, should they then be held personally responsible for the consequences?" (8)
Sources and further reading
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Lab-grown-meat-needed-feed-world.html Accessed online 6/29/11
Accessed online 6/30/11
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