Great piece by Laura June for The Verge:
On Monday, August 5th, 2013, at a television studio in London in front of around 100 people, Dr. Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands unveiled the culmination of five years of research: a lab-grown “test tube” beef burger, cooked in a pan and served to two members of the public. Though a handful of tiny pieces of such meat had previously been displayed, the burger in that pan was the first fully cooked specimen tasted and admired by everyday citizens. “A few cells that we take from a cow,” Post says, can be turned into “10 tons of meat.” What Hanni Rützler, an Austrian researcher, and Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based food writer — the “tasters” — were eating was 100 percent perfect beef. It had never been slaughtered, had never been properly “alive,” and most importantly, had never been a living, breathing animal. The meat, which contained no fat, was pronounced to have “quite a bit of flavor” by Rützler, and the consistency was said to be “perfect.” “Some people think this is science fiction,” Sergey Brin, founder of Google and the single donor who provided funding (nearly $1 million thus far) for Post’s research, said, but he sees it as an achievable goal.
I have to confess, I have mixed feelings about this type of research. It certainly feels like tampering with Nature a bit too much, which may have unexpected consequences. On the other hand though, it’s clear that our current meat consumption habits are not sustainable on a global scale. Something has to give.
From a moral standpoint I guess this solution is actually pretty safe, considering no animals need to be slaughtered to produce the meat. In that aspect it’s nothing like cloning animals or genetically manipulating them to make them grow faster. I keep trying to come up with a reasonable objection to this type of manipulation but so far, I can’t help but feel that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
It it were up to me, I would much prefer to eat a lab-grown burger than to become a vegetarian but hey, to each his own.