Monday, November 30, 2009

Soggy Pork In a Supermarket Near You By 2014

Meat produced in a laboratory could reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with real animals. Photo: MARTIN POPE Telegraph

This is not the first time I have mentioned this; and, it probably won’t be the last: I am so glad that I am a vegetarian.

The latest in “disgusting things they want me to put in my body” is soggy pork. Yes, you read that right – soggy pork. Now, doesn’t that sound yummy? I’m guessing it will be renamed before it hits the supermarkets.

What is soggy pork – exactly? You may be sorry you asked. Soggy pork is meat that is grown in a laboratory from a few cells grown in a broth of other animal products.

Telegraph explains:
“The scientists extracted cells from the muscle of a live pig and then put them in a broth of other animal products. The cells then multiplied and created muscle tissue. They believe that it can be turned into something like steak if they can find a way to artificially "exercise" the muscle.”

What is the meat like now? Mark Post, professor of physiology at Eindhoven University, said: "What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue. We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there. This product will be good for the environment and will reduce animal suffering. If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it. You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals.”

While no one has enough information on the nutritional value of the meat to comment on its potential health risks yet – of which I’m sure there are more risks than benefits – the meat will be marketed in a little under five years.

However, many are pointing to the huge environmental benefits that are expected to be gained. One of the most infamous of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions is methane. And where does that methane come from? Cows; and, the world has plenty of them. Guesstimates put the amount of the entire world’s methane released by cattle to be about 20% - this is more than all the world’s automobile emissions.

Factory farms like this one may be a thing of the past if soggy pork catches on.

Why are we trying to eliminate the cattle industry if the few cells used come from a pig? The meat may have been grown from a few pork cells; but, it can be made to taste like beef. So, scientists and researchers are looking at this soggy pork as a way to reduce cattle herds worldwide. In addition to being artificially-engineered; now, it will be artificially-flavoured as well. Mmmmm…boy!!

I’m not sure which is more unappetizing – the “grown under laboratory conditions” label or the ability to customize the taste of your artificially-grown meat.

Proponents are pointing to the fact that not only will these methane emissions be spared; but, forests will remain standing instead of being eradicated for ranches. There would be a drastic reduction in the water needed to bring this meat from lab to market. It would almost certainly reduce animal cruelty.

It was supported by animal rights campaigners. A spokesman for Peta said: “As far as we’re concerned, if meat is no longer a piece of a dead animal there’s no ethical objection.”

However, the Vegetarian Society said: “The big question is how could you guarantee you were eating artificial flesh rather than flesh from an animal that had been slaughtered. It would be very difficult to label and identify in a way that people would trust.” Excuse me; but, doesn’t the fact that it’s animal cells brewed in a cauldron with other animal products make it non-vegetarian by very definition.

A survey commissioned by the Food Standards Agency revealed people had concerns about long-term health risks and the environmental impacts that may come with genetically modified products. Not surprising to me, it also showed that shoppers want clear labelling to show if a product has been genetically modified. We have a right to know!! It’s my body; I’ll make the decisions about what is safe for it.

Genetically Modified supporters, while acknowledging the risks associated with “engineered” food, say it benefits the Third World. That’s even more disgusting than the soggy meat.

And just when you thought the “disgusting” bits were all over – there’s one more bit. This project is being funded by the Dutch government and a sausage company and follows on the heels of the creation of artificial fish fillets made from goldfish muscle cells. Filet-o-goldfish anyone?

Via TreeHugger and Telegraph.


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