In vitro meat isn’t much of a stretch


By Sasha Moedt

Abbotsford (CUP) — A “Frankenburger” may soon replace the Whoppers and Happy Meals we’ve grown accustomed to. Earlier this year, an attempt to create an in vitro burger in a scientific lab was unveiled. Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands made his test-tube patty out of cattle stem cells. He has announced that the world’s first test-tube burger will be served up this October.

Some consumers express disgust when they hear how the meat was made: strips of beef muscle tissue were flexed and relaxed by electrical stimulus until they grew into a meat strip big enough to eat.

Something pulsating in a lab? It’s like The Matrix for hamburgers.

But I, for one, liked The Matrix. Who cares if you’re in a tub of goo and wires and not actually living? It worked fine. And the same goes with test-tube burgers. I don’t have too much of an issue with eating them.

There is so much preservative and funny stuff added to an animal’s diet before slaughter, and then again to the meat after slaughter. I don’t see how test-tube meat is much different. Both types of meat are modified (genetically or otherwise) to taste like genuine meat. Let’s not kid ourselves: fast-food meat isn’t any safer to eat than these test-tube burgers coming from the Netherlands.

In 2008, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched an initiative for scientists to make in vitro meat and bring it to market. Mark Post has a burger worth nearly $350,000, but according to The Telegraph, it’s unlikely that his burger will qualify for PETA’s million-dollar prize. For one thing, PETA specified that it was looking for chicken grown in a lab, not beef. The advocacy group also set June 30, 2012, as a deadline, and stated that by that time the meat must be sold to the public at a competitive price in no less than 10 states.

Even though he’s unlikely to win the prize, Post has still gained major props from PETA for his Frankenburger. And it’s no wonder — in vitro meat eliminates so many reasons to feel guilty about this “addiction” (which is a perfect term for it). There will be no more cruelty; yes, the stem cells will be harvested from live animals, but no animals will be slaughtered and far smaller herds will be needed, eliminating cramped feed-lots. The damages to the environment inflicted by us, the forests clear-cut to make space for cattle grazing, and the resources wasted will also be eliminated.

I eat meat. I don’t know how the chicken, cow, or pig was raised or what it was fed or how it was killed. What difference does it make if it’s grown like bacteria in a lab? It really is like The Matrix, except in this analogy, we’re the robots and the animals are the humans. We all know we can’t continue to live in the carnivorous way we’ve grown accustomed to. We have to make some adjustments.