I disagree with Hightower.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Growing meat in a laboratory

Apparently growing meat in a laboratory is a reality and ready to go forward.  The implications are huge, it would seem to me.  First of all the shear amount of investment in people (I mean people who depend on the production of meat for their living but do not necessarily engage in the labor of producing meat), labor, equipment and facilities would be rendered, if not worthless, then certainly worth less...much less.  A lot of real estate would be freed up but I don't see the value of land going down because of it.  Perhaps even positive substitutive uses would make it even more valuable.

Secondly, the cost of producing this meat, I would think, will, eventually be much less than the costs of ranching and producing the meat the old fashioned way.  There is a lot of risk in ranching and farming that would be taken out of the test tube production of food.  Therefore, it would seem to me that the impact on world hunger would be reduced materially.

Thirdly. it would be a big positive for the environment, if the environmentalists are correct about the size of the negative impact that raising large numbers of cattle has on the environment. 

I noted that the taste testers' only complaint was the lack of fat for taste purposes. No doubt they can figure out how to add fat.  We add fat to just about everything else. 

Any other implications anyone can think of?  I'm sure some can think of more negatives. 



  1. There was once a British TV series called “Are You Being Served” and one of the characters was a Ms Slocum who constantly and quite innocently always referred to her pet cat as her pussy. In one episode she was shown a very cute mechanical puppy and immediately asked if they also had mechanical pussy. The immediate reply was “no, we find that people prefer the real thing”.

    Customer resistance could be an issue. Similar to the resistance we see to meat substitutes made from soy or meat patties made from turkey. PETA would probably embrace the technology, but others may perceive this as Franken food and reject it categorically. I will be completely dismissive of the “Luddite” type issues that will inevitably be raised if this technology really can produce a meat substitute at an affordable cost (which is very unclear from the article).

    On the positive side if this technology does indeed work there is the potential for reducing the production of green house gasses since ranching and farming produce a lot of methane and CO2. It would be interesting to see the delta on the production of green house gasses generated by each method of producing a hamburger patty.

    1. I don't know how apt your comparison is but very funny nonetheless.

      Thanks for making me look up the word "Luddite".

      I tend to believe that we as a society are more and more accepting of technology to help us solve our problems. In the genre of science fiction there are 2 basic schools of thought about the future. One is that technology will save us from ourselves. The other is that...well...it won't, to be brief. The most severe example of the first school of thought is Star Trek where everything on Earth is always new and shiny, medical diagnosis and treatment appear to be as simple as waving a mechanical thingamajig over the patient's body, there is no need for money, there is no baldness or obesity or even unattractive people, and food just appears out of a machine because you ask for it. Yeah, I like that. A civilization needs goals. It would be difficult to choose one best example of the second school of thought as there are many that end with our species being no more. Technology fails to save us from ourselves.