TODAY’S BREAKING NEWS:
In other (more ground-breaking) news…..
I was very intrigued to stumble across an article discussing the research of a scientist in South Carolina. Vladimir Mironov, M.D., Ph.D., has been attempting to grow meat. I know you might be thinking, “Duh. Isn’t meat already grown through the process of raising animals for slaughter?” Yes, wise one, but Mironov’s attempts have reached outside of the box of convention and into test tubes.
How? Myoblasts–embryonic cells that develop into muscle tissue–are being taken from turkeys and coated with nutrients to help them grow into a tissue resembling that of animal muscle. Currently the cells lack the juicy, chewy quality typically associated with meat. Scientists hope that adding fat and a way for the cells to receive oxygen will overcome this barrier.
Why would this venture even be beneficial? The article cites three reasons:
- The potential to lower current food prices — “”Animals require between 3 and 8 pounds of nutrient to make 1 pound of meat. It’s fairly inefficient. Animals consume food and produce waste. Cultured meat doesn’t have a digestive system.” (And thus, it would eventually be cheaper to grow JUST the tissue rather than wasting the $$ on feeding the animal.)
- The potential to solve any future global food crises due to increased population and decreased land available for farming.
- In the event of “interplanetary exploration” (i.e. humans occupying another planet), it would be very difficult to transport animals and the equipment necessary to raise/slaughter them. Genetically grown food will allow for food to be produced in space efficiently and easily.
Sounds good. So what’s the big deal? Many question the egotistical nature in the thought that humans can improve upon what nature has already provided. There are already multiple concerns over the negative impacts processed foods are having on quality of life (for instance–hormones found in many foods have been suggested to be the culprit of early puberty in girls). The project has been refused for funding by many government agencies, including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), the National Institute of Health, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Whether these agencies simply lack the money to back the project or not is unclear.
“In-vitro” meat (also referred to as cultured meat) has the potential to solve many food problems, but the controversy surrounding possible side-effects of synthetic foods have many skeptics wondering if the benefits truly outweigh the risks. Personally, I don’t like the idea of eating something man-made that should have been created by nature I will let you decide for yourselves what you think of technology becoming the source of nutrition.