Clean Meat and Cute Monsters

April 30, 2021

Description:

Production of meat and seafood around the world will double to 1.2 trillion pounds by 2050. Our planet cannot afford to supply the water, fuel, pesticides, and fertilizer that industrialized animal production requires. It can’t afford the polluted water or the biodiversity loss. It can’t afford the moral inconsistencies. And we think it’s unlikely that people will consistently choose plant-based alternatives over chicken, beef, pork, and seafood.

The world needs a solution to these realities. With plants providing nutrients for animal cells to grow, we believe we can produce cultured meat and seafood that is over 10x more efficient than conventional meat production.

All this without confining or slaughtering a single animal and with a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions and water use. Our approach will be transparent and unquestionably safe, free of antibiotics and have a much lower risk of foodborne illness. The right choice will be obvious. Learn more at goodmeat.co

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From what I know so far, the movement toward lab-grown meat seems worth supporting, and could be a game changer in producing enough protein sustainably to feed the additional 3 billion humans who are on the way , without killing the planet.
But we do need to look at the moral implications of the emerging technology, which goes well beyond “clean” chicken nuggets.

Wall Street Journal:

In three recent scientific milestones you can make out the sharpening contours of our unnatural future.

At the end of last year, Elizabeth Ann, the biological clone of a black-footed ferret who died in 1988, was born at a conservation center in Fort Collins, Colo. Her birth marked a triumph in a decades-long campaign to save her species from extinction. The miracle birth was achieved through a collaboration among the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, San Diego‘s Frozen Zoo and the group Revive & Restore, best known for its efforts to recreate woolly mammoths and passenger pigeons. The cuddliness of this genetic wonder and her fellow Fort Collins ferrets is on display in videos posted by Fish & Wildlife, which has also set up a live “Ferret Cam” to encourage sympathy for “North America’s most endangered (and cutest) mammal.”

The same month, Singapore became the first country to approve the commercial sale of cultured meat—animal cells grown in a laboratory and designed to taste like the genuine article. The first product authorized for sale was a chicken nugget manufactured by the multibillion-dollar San Francisco company Eat Just. In a promotional video, a picnic table of smiling hipsters eat chicken nuggets, while a chicken named Ian struts on the lawn beside them. The nuggets, the video reveals, are made from Ian—cultured from a scrape of his skin cells.


And just this week, researchers in La Jolla, Calif., and Kunming, China, announced that they had successfully implanted human cells into macaque monkey embryos. The experiment suggested it would soon be possible to engineer a novel hybrid species: a human-monkey chimera. Even the experiment’s lead scientist acknowledged it would “certainly raise many concerns.” 

But scientists have created transgenic species for decades. We’ve already seen “humanized” pigs, cows and rats, and the first Covid vaccines available in the U.S. were initially tested on mice implanted with human genes. Scandal-averse scientists prefer to speak of these creatures as “tools” or “models,” as in the language on the website of Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor, Maine: “The latest model, the humanized NSG™-IL15, is now also available in limited quantities.”

We are witnessing the dawn of the age of cute monsters. The word “monster” comes from Latin monere, “to warn, remind,” a root shared by “premonition.” The future now emerging is one of unabashed, targeted interference in natural processes, through the manipulation of genetic codes, landforms and the global atmosphere.

6 Responses to “Clean Meat and Cute Monsters”

  1. Gingerbaker Says:

    “Our planet cannot afford to supply the water, fuel, pesticides, and fertilizer that industrialized animal production requires.”

    Says who? A processed-food manufacturer who stands to reap huge profits based on that framing? Who is making his product from dozens of components that all require “water, fuel, pesticides, and fertilizer” to make, plus large amounts of electricity. Plus shipping of the components. Plus non-grey water – lots of it.

    Wanna know who doesn’t think that “Our planet cannot afford to supply the water, fuel, pesticides, and fertilizer that industrialized animal production requires? Actual food scientists and agrarian experts.

    “With plants providing nutrients for animal cells to grow, we believe we can produce cultured meat and seafood that is over 10x more efficient than conventional meat production.

    All this … with a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions and water use. “

    And I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. We are still waiting to see an independent full resource analysis of the environmental impact of the fake meat industry. But I daresay it will not come up smelling of roses.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      One advantage of these synthetic meats is that the production can be moved to where the resources are (water, plant material, energy). Rather than livestock in pastures (or in banks of cages), meat factories can be sited more efficiently based on fewer constraints, and without the poop management or the nasty labor entailed with gutting and de-boning of animals to get to the muscle tissue.

      I’d still go with fake meat over cultured meat, but either way the ease of automation and the eventual drop in retail prices are a major win over whole-animal processing. Even with a lot of consumers sticking to traditional meat, we know that a lot of people are price-conscious and some of us will be happy with how tasty they can make it.

    • Mark Mev Says:

      “Actual food scientists and agrarian experts.” Could you provide a reference?

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    “One advantage of these synthetic meats is that the production can be moved to where the resources are (water, plant material, energy).”

    Really, the same is true for livestock. Cattle and sheep are grown on pasture with comes with free rainfall and free grass without the need for pesticides or fertilizers.

    And while cattle are finished with feed and some grain, the pesticides and fertilizers needed are part of regular crop agriculture. Which are also used in the production of fake meat, which is derived from soy, pea, and many other crops.

    Every single component of fake meat needs to be manufactured in different places around the country and shipped in. So, no – they are not making fake meat where the resources are. Fake meat is an ultra-processed product, made of many components each the result of manufacturing from other processed components.

    I can see how some people might prefer their veggie burgers because they don’t involve the deliberate killing of animals. But the fact is that literally billions of animals are killed and maimed by crop agriculture. Australia, which has about 1/4 the arable land of the US, estimates 1 billion mammals are killed every year by the operation of crop agriculture.

    “but either way the ease of automation and the eventual drop in retail prices are a major win over whole-animal processing. “

    Whether the price will drop below that of regular meat remains to be seen, though, right? Right now it’s a multiple higher than hamburger. ( $13.00 per pound for Beyond Burger patties vs $3.00 per pound for real beef patties) That is going to require some enormous economy of scale. I have my doubts.


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