Green living debate – would you eat meat grown in a test tube?
By Nikki Fotheringham
Cows release between 70-120 kg of methane annually. Contrary to popular belief, its cow burps that fuel the increase in greenhouse gases rather than noxious vapors emanating from less favorable cow real estate (a poisonous dairy-air). Still, this innocuous seeming bodily bovine function contributes significant greenhouse gases to the atmosphere every year. To combat this vaporous assault, environmentalists and animal lovers the world over have championed a strict regimen of Meatless Mondays; a plea that has gone mostly unheeded by the burger bourgeoisie. Now the meat-loving masses may have a different option for Meatless Monday; test tube Tuesday!’
The steaks are high
“Frankenmeat” is here! Vascular biologist, Mark Post from University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, has perfected the art of growing of meat in a Petri dish. Stem cells are used to ‘grow’ meat in labs that have all the same properties as meat generated the old fashioned way.
Animal lovers and environmentalists alike hail lab-grown meat as a great way to reduce the environmental impact of farming beef. The resources (including land, feed, water and processing resources) that producing meat utilizes could be effectively mitigated by lab-grown meat. World hunger and food shortages created by a growing world population could also decrease thanks to man-made meat.
You’ve gotta be grazy!
The harvesting of stem cells doesn’t quite circumnavigate the concern of animal activists while purists have a problem with engineered food. However, when PETA spokesperson and president, Ingrid Newkirk, waded in on the issue, she had some surprising comments: “Of course, people are going to be divided on this issue; even within our own organization, our own executive, we’ve had people opposed to (test-tube meat).” Ingrid is a proponent of the test-tube meat, claiming that PETA supporters are “pragmatists, not purists”.
Test-tube meat is still a long way from your local supermarket fridges. Post’s first hamburger cost about $300, 000. However, now that technology has reached this stage of maturity, it’s just a hop, skip and a test tube away from mass production. All that remains is to see if the burgers are able to overcome the gag reflex of consumers. If a test tube is good enough to grow babies in, surely it’s good enough to grow a burger in too!