April 11, 2008
Cultured meat becoming a reality, still grossing people out
Today the Times' environmental blog Dot Earth has a piece about manufactured meat, which is grown in a lab through animal cell cultures instead of as actual animals.
The idea of lab meat has been freaking people out for a few years now as scientists have been figuring out how to culture meat using stem cells. Advocates point out that cultured meat doesn't require killing animals, doesn't cause the environmental damage of raising livestock, produces no waste bone, fat, or other tissue, and is essentially no different from making yogurt or wine by processing natural raw ingredients. And sausages and chicken nuggets are already heavily processed and not really visually recognizable as meat the way a steak or a chicken wing is.
But people still think eating meat grown in a lab is creepy, even if they're cool with eating actual animal meat that's been processed into a sausage or chicken nugget. You also can't grow a pork chop or a wing in a lab.
The Times has been covering this technology for a while, and featured it in the 2005 Year In Ideas issue. The best part of that article is a photo of mouse stem cells, labeled with the caption, "Tube steak?" Dick joke in the Times!
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