Meat Me in the Future
July 8, 2005 11:32 AM   Subscribe

A Step Closer to In Vitro Meat Production
A group of scientists are proposing techniques in the Tissue Engineering journal (4pg .pdf) that may allow industrial production of meat sans animals. They have established a non-profit organization "to support the development of meat substitutes, with the long-term goal of delivering economically competitve alternatives to conventional meat production".
[New Scientist 2002 & /. discussion] [meat-mefi] [vegan-mefi]
posted by peacay (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What will PETA think about this? I love this, but it creeps me out a little bit too. I suspect there will be some disgust factor to overcome in the marketing. Insert obligatory KFC joke. I wonder whether lean vs. fatty meats will be easier to grow.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:49 AM on July 8, 2005

Of course, if this works, we'll also be able to culture our own tissues, and make steaks made of ourselves.

Who wants a piece of my ass?

[sorry, couldn't resist]
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:51 AM on July 8, 2005

Who wants a piece of my ass?

No. Prions.
posted by jimmy at 11:53 AM on July 8, 2005

Um yeah, there's something not especially comforting about "Edible Meat". I've seen stuff that's technically edible on Fear Factor but I've got no interest in eating it.

Second thought was what ol' Ingrid Newkirk and her PETA Nazis will make of this. I can't imagine they would have a problem but I bet they will. Since its still "meat".

Finally, a way for the cannibals to have their human flesh and eat it too.
posted by fenriq at 11:54 AM on July 8, 2005

There's a fabulous Bob the Angry Flower strip about this that I'm currently unable to locate.

I'm all for it, but you have to wonder what will become of all the poor domesticated meat animals once we've taken away the only reason for their existence.

*digs into a ChickieNobs Bucket-O-Nubbins*
posted by squidlarkin at 11:54 AM on July 8, 2005

I hope lab meat is not Teratoma-licious.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:56 AM on July 8, 2005

Well, it dosn't bother me at all. In fact, I can't see why someone would rather eat a dead animal then something grown in what basicaly amounts to a giant petri dish.

Seriously, imagine a cow laying dead on the ground, you think that isn't kinda gross? You don't think it's gross eating through the veins and muscle tissue and nerves of something that used to be walking around? Something that used to eat and shit on its own?

Whats the diffrence between this and, for example, beer which is grown in vats with yeast? Or bread?

I don't personaly have a problem with eating dead Animals, but eventualy this could lead to less ranching in the cut-down amazon rain forest, for example, so I guess thats good.

Plus, no more dark meat in chicken, no more crappy cuts of stake. We'll be getting psudo-kobe beef at McDonalds. Plus all kinds of never-before imagined flavors.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 PM on July 8, 2005

squidlarkin, well the poor ones will suffer alot but the rich ones will go on like nothing's happened, as it always goes. You can send the poor tasty ones to me and I'll give them a good home in my belly.

Fake meat's a good breakthrough and all but I don't think anything will ever subvert the sensual joy that is a rack of ribs or marinated skirt steak.
posted by fenriq at 12:03 PM on July 8, 2005

It would never have the nutrient value of animals. You cant synthesize omega-3 fats for example.
posted by stbalbach at 12:05 PM on July 8, 2005

I don't see any ethical problem, and if it's grown in labs I would assume many of the health liabilities of meat (related to buildup of carcinogens from the environment) would be minimized if not eliminated. But the joke is the concept of going to all this trouble to create an artificial form of meat just to be able to say "well, at least it's meat!"
posted by soyjoy at 12:07 PM on July 8, 2005

Actually, you're right, stbalbach - the nutrients/carcinogens thing is two sides of the same coin for animal flesh. But don't worry, for omega-3s they could just soak it in flax oil for a while!
posted by soyjoy at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2005

I was just reading up on fringe historical activities, delmoi, like drinking cow's milk (whoah -- can we get a little more twisted, please?) that eventually become accepted through repetition. It gives me confidence that vat meat will be no different, and maybe we won't have to bother with all of those antibiotics, either. Hell, will this make any difference for the fast food industry? People are already skeptical of the origins of that "meat".

And good news for animals. I don't suppose that more than in a few cases will the takeover be so sudden that a mass cull will result. Rather, less animals born to live short lives in tiny cages.
posted by dreamsign at 12:17 PM on July 8, 2005

Alex from Marginal Revolution discussed this a couple of months ago link.
His conclusion which stuck with me, "Forget PETA, animal welfarists should be sending their money to researchers working on in-vitro meat."
posted by anonetal at 12:19 PM on July 8, 2005

squidlarkin: Um, they won't exist. There's nothing wrong with that -- life's about quality, not quantity.
posted by cl at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2005

Reminds me of an old sci-fi story, set in a world where advertising had taken over society, wherein the protagonist gets involved with a secret society seeking to reform the world, who hid the entrance to their lair under....the first artificial meat plant/creature/thing.
posted by nomisxid at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2005

nomisxid: That's exactly what I was about to post! What story was that? I can't remember anything about it except the vision of this huge vat of "chicken" flesh. The workers walked around it slicing pieces off and it quivered - ewww.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2005

Was that the Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth?
posted by jjray at 1:09 PM on July 8, 2005

Prepare for another barrage from the Beef Board...
posted by cookie-k at 1:09 PM on July 8, 2005

Yes! That's it! From this website: One of the great, classic images of this book is Chicken Littleā€”a neatly packaged, popular meat product that's actually a gigantic, living mass of vat-grown tissue fed and processed at the Chlorella plantation. It's underneath this grotesque monstrosity that the Consie cell holds its clandestine meetings, which they get to by a special way of making Chicken Little's flesh part, not unlike the Red Sea. That's just so wrong and so right.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:17 PM on July 8, 2005

This is so _Oryx and Crake_
posted by gurple at 1:39 PM on July 8, 2005

PETA will still have the fur industry and labcoats putting lipstick on bunnies to contend with. Can we grow a mink stole in a dish yet?
posted by itchylick at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2005

One of my high school friends' "million dollar ideas" (he had several) was genetically engineering single cell animals to make synthetic meat, packing it in cans and selling it as Yeast Beast. I think he planned on including little plastic bones.
posted by aubilenon at 2:01 PM on July 8, 2005

This reminded me of the Ian M. Banks story The State of the Art. A Culture crew ending a mission on Earth have a meal including (among other things) Pinochet chilli and Nixon hamburgers, made from cell samples.
posted by Edame at 2:05 PM on July 8, 2005

It would never have the nutrient value of animals. You cant synthesize omega-3 fats for example.
posted by stbalbach (1Ker) at 12:05 PM PST on July 8 [!]

Ah, but you can genetically engineer its production into the meat itself! Wouldnt' that be better, anyway? No weird byproducts of the synthesis (like omega-6 fatty acids, for instance).

Yeast beast: Yes.
posted by metaculpa at 2:42 PM on July 8, 2005

Edame, nice! Iain Banks is one of my long time favorites! Thanks, now pass the Reagans Ribs.
posted by fenriq at 2:46 PM on July 8, 2005

I eagerly await vat-grown bacon. Yum!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:48 PM on July 8, 2005

Sorry to disappoint you fff, but I think that one of the hard parts will be in creating texture in these vat grown tissue.

Also, will vat-growing this tissue, pound-for-pound be as energy efficient as having an animal convert grass into tissue? There's be a lot less waste, but...?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:59 PM on July 8, 2005

Yeah, it's funny till the Reagan Ribs run for President. And win.
posted by Outlawyr at 3:05 PM on July 8, 2005

Now if they can just find some of Jesus' DNA, the sacrament needn't be so, well, metaphorical.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:11 PM on July 8, 2005

Wow. This'll revolutionize school lunches. And airplane food.
posted by klangklangston at 3:47 PM on July 8, 2005

squidlarkin: This one?
posted by MikeKD at 4:23 PM on July 8, 2005

This is so _Oryx and Crake_

posted by amberglow at 4:26 PM on July 8, 2005

I think that one of the hard parts will be in creating texture in these vat grown tissue.

Zap it with electricity regularly to give it some exercise.
posted by kindall at 4:29 PM on July 8, 2005

Make it stop!

I'm just about ready to go back to my hippie vegetarian days. Matter of fact, that rice, veggie burger, soy sauce and black sesame seeds tasted pretty good today.
posted by kozad at 5:28 PM on July 8, 2005

Icky perhaps, but combine this with the "bio-nano" generator research and we could have ourselves a real cash cow ;)
posted by rapid dissent at 8:47 PM on July 8, 2005

Wouldja steak your reputation on it?

Me, I'd have no beef with the plan. Hell, milk it for all it's worth!

I think it's an udderly magnificent plan, and that's no bull.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 PM on July 8, 2005

I think we can do without that sort of tripe, fff. We expect something of a different kidney here on Meatfilter...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:54 PM on July 8, 2005

_Oryx and Crake_ indeed.

i find this to be rather grotesque. however, the professional ethicist/philosopher and vegan (animal rights and health based) i live with thinks it's the only way to go. not only does it remove the ethical constraints against eating meat, but also is a move to eliminate the environmental degradation caused by a meat-based diet.

if you've ever driven through, say, Kansas and seen the acres upon acres of muddy fields filled with cattle awaiting slaughter, you might have thought of the similarity to concentration camps (that is, if you have any discomfort in the meat acquiring process we currently use). as much as this development makes me shudder, it's probably a move in the positive, as people don't seem inclined to stop eating meat no matter what they know about that process. therefore, if this meat is cheaper, it should go far toward reducing the problems associated with raising animals for eating.

a personal example: i don't eat fish because of the overfishing issue, along with pollutants known to infest much of it. i would gladly eat fish if i knew it was safe and it wasn't depleting the ocean's reserves.

i'd be surprised if PETA didn't support it. (and i'm not one of those who thinks they're a bunch of crackpots.)
posted by RedEmma at 12:49 PM on July 10, 2005

odinsdream that pdf is in the FPP. Just a different source.

One thing which has been alluded to somewhere above is that despite the appearance that in vitro meat production will be beneficial in terms of less stress on the environment, I suppose we don't know at this stage how much fossil fuel reserves it will require.

But I don't have a position in the debate really, I just thought it was kind of interesting.
posted by peacay at 10:26 PM on July 11, 2005

Maybe we can feed the meat our dead family members, in a sort of one-step-removed version of soylent green. Yummy!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:46 AM on July 12, 2005

You can sign your relatives up here five fresh fish.
posted by peacay at 2:39 AM on July 12, 2005

posted by five fresh fish at 9:50 AM on July 12, 2005

Curse us! Curse us all!
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on July 13, 2005

"..those blog-bullies BoingBoing and Metafilter upstaged me today with nearly content-free posts and the story gets widely linked.."
cursed indeed. And what's with 'content-free' shite? Regurgitate would be ontopic I guess.
But I didn't get it from BB. The newsdesk article was the basis for a scitechdaily post which was emailed to me on release.
posted by peacay at 10:49 PM on July 13, 2005

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