Cultured Meat and All That Jazz!
Cultured Meat and All That Jazz!
Ohh, that sounds so good!
I recently read that the U.S. FDA has approved two companies that will be allowed to sell lab grown chicken. Apparently we won’t have it in supermarkets for a while as both companies say they’ll be selling it to high end restaurants first.
That made me think of the old Folgers Coffee commercials.
My wife and tried Folgers Crystals back then and what I couldn’t believe was that the commercials weren’t fake.
Apparently that won’t be an issue with cultured chicken because it is chicken meat, and maybe chicken fat, and maybe chicken connective tissue, but nothing else. No bacteria. No antibiotics. No hormones. People who have tried it say it tastes like chicken but the texture might be more oily. Maybe like leg meat?
You know what? I don’t really care about what cells are cultured or what it tastes like. It’s either going to taste good or not, and I bet every company making cuktured chicken or beef is working real hard to give you the most genuine experience possible. If they fail, a lot of people will be unemployed and a lot of investors will be itemizing their losses on their next tax return.
What I’m interested in is societal and environmental impact. If this type of meat succeeds, what might happen? I can imagine a few things.
More green, less greenhouse
Chickens and cattle make a large contribution to greenhouse gases and water use. Both also pollute water. There might be ways to mitigate some of that, but cultured meat should be much cleaner to produce. And again, no viruses, no bacteria, no hormones. Well, less of that, I would expect. Accidents still happen and people seeking profit should never be fully trusted. But better, I’d guess, a lot better. Lower carbon footprint and not pooping all over the place.
The more I learn about animal cognition and emotion, the more I want this tech to wildly succeed. Did you read about bees emotional life? Sheesh!
The manufacturers say that bringing stem cells to maturity only takes 2–8 weeks. That’s similar to farming chickens, but beef takes a year or two.
Learn about the science of cultivated meat and the challenges that must be addressed for commercial production.
Maybe a super food?
Perhaps a bit of GMO magic could make these products even more nutritious and tasty? Since you aren’t diddling with a whole animal, that might even be acceptable to the no GMO crowd? Maybe.
And if you need a special diet for medical reasons, maybe it could eventually help with that?
What about the animals?
So let’s pretend cultured meat goes firecrackers. It gets cheap, it tastes great, fantastic! If we get cultured salmon and tuna and other fish, maybe our oceans can start to recover. And we clean up all the plastic and shoot it all into space, which pisses off the aliens and…
No, seriously. What happens to chickens and cattle and pigs and stuff? Maybe eggs will save the chickens? Naah, we’ll grow eggs from stem cells too. Milk? We’ll probably engineer that too. Unlikely? Yeah, I guess, but let’s pretend there’s no more animal husbandry. Then what? Not many of us would keep cows as pets. Chickens, maybe.
Rewilding those animals is not a good idea for so many reasons. Introducing diseases, invasive species competition, and they’ve been raised by us for so long they could have trouble adapting. There are wild chickens and wild cattle, but if there was no market for the world live stock population, would there be enough places they could go?
Massive slaughter kind of messes up the animal welfare high, doesn’t it? So?
Well, it wouldn’t happen overnight, so can we pretend that all the animals will die peaceful, natural deaths in Animal Old Age Homes?
Naah. We’ll slaughter them. No cameras allowed for this bloodbath.
And then they’ll be just about extinct. Not entirely, because there already are feral populations of most domestic animals, and in some places people might not like the slaughter option, so if there is a way the livestock could wander off and be somebody else’s problem, yeah, let’s do that!
Animal welfare? Look, over there, something shiny! Let’s go play with that.
Just kidding. This could never happen. We don’t just throw away things that we don’t want any more, right? Certainly not suddenly inconvenient animals.
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