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How Would You Like Your Test Tube Burger?

February 23, 2012

Right now they are very rare (get it?). But scientists, as they will, are plowing ahead with the development of in vitro meat, also dubbed Frankenmeat.

Isn't technology fun?

From a moral and environmental point of view, the logic is unassailable:

So-called test-tube meat is being developed to slash the environmental impacts of factory farming, improve consumer health and lessen the suffering of animals. Last June, an Oxford University study concluded that compared with conventionally grown and produced meat, “in vitro” or “cultured” meat would¬†generate 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, use 45% less energy, reduce land use by 99% and cut water use by 96%.

“Animal farming is by far the biggest ongoing global catastrophe,” Patrick Brown of the Stanford University School of Medicine told reporters,¬†AFP says. “More to the point, it’s incredibly ready to topple … it’s inefficient technology that hasn’t changed fundamentally for millennia.”

From a culinary point of view it sounds (and looks–so far) pretty disgusting.

Yum. Can't wait.

The meat-eating world is already starting to argue that it will be incumbent upon vegans and vegetarians to eat the stuff, to help it take off commercially.

Actually, I think it is incumbent upon me to keep making the argument that the simplest thing is for people to stop eating meat (why do some technological solutions sometimes seem so grotesque? Not sure I want to see what unintended consequences Frankenmeat will arrive with). And that meat should be taxed according to the environmental and health costs it imposes on the planet (it would be impossible to quantify or even compensate for the suffering factory meat-farming inflicts on animals).

Simply making people pay what meat really costs would be by far the fastest and simplest way to solve the meat problem (and the strongest incentive for going vegetarian). And for any die-hards who would prefer test-tube meat to no meat at all, the right price on factory-farmed meat would make lab-farmed meat commercially viable in a hurry.

So, no thanks. I’ll pass on that Frankenburger.

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