Would you eat lab-grown meat?

If you think the whole GMO debate is bad, you won’t believe this…

Your next hamburger may be grown in a laboratory!

When I read stories like this, I get filled with glee…because I can’t wait to see how messed up this is going to be for our health and what kind of cancer this will cause. When did we decided that we were larger-than-life beings (dare I say God) to feel empowered to create food from where it didn’t exist?

I believe in progress as much as the next guy. But, when it comes to food, we’ve done such a terrible job in the past attempting to create “healthy-but-cheap” food, that I can’t help but wonder.

Synthetic or test-tube meat involves taking a small amount of cells from a living animal and growing it into lumps of muscle tissue, which can then, in theory, be eaten as meat for human consumption.

As well as avoiding killing animals, scientists believe it could help reduce the environmental impact of meat production. Of course, who knows if consumers will accept it. But, honestly, with what I see people eating today: Tofurkey and all the other processed soy products, GMO crops, or even Cinnabons…nothing would surprise me.

It’s all thanks to a U.S. scientist from the University of Missouri. He’s a specialist in creating replacement tissue and organs for humans. One day he realized the same technology could be used to engineer meat for human consumption. Which, if you ask me, is where he should have stopped!

Dutch researchers are also on the case and are promising a high-profile launch for their synthetic hamburger by the end of the year. In the meantime, the scientist in the States is opting to start with a “less controversial” product–a lab-grown leather product. He says it’s “a similar product to some extent but not as controversial and doesn’t require the same legislation that meat does.”

So our shoes and our food are similar? I guess if you cook it incorrectly, it can certainly taste that way, but come on.

So, they believe that consumers will be more likely to accept it as an ingredient because it is too difficult to create muscle tissue that tastes, looks, and feels like animal flesh. The scientists equate their product to flour (which, if you are a Hamptons devotee, you know how I feel about flour). One doesn’t usually eat flour directly because it doesn’t taste good but, most people eat things made with flour (as much as I tell them repeatedly not to).

I’m concerned with the same issues many carnivores struggle with: animal welfare concerns over rearing large numbers of farm animals in close proximity, the water use, farmland for animal feed, waste and greenhouse-gas emissions associated with meat production, etc.

However, these concerns can be reduced if people ate fresh, local, sustainable, small-farm produced livestock. Therefore, I do not advocate Franken foods, but rather a return to proper farming.

What still remains uncertain is whether or not we will ever accept a lab-grown meat product. Some scientists want it to be meat, and recognized like any other meat. Others think it’s better to be seen as a new type of meat and as such OK to taste or look different. Then there is a minority who feel it’s a meat substitute, very meat-like but not meat. Really??

Whatever the final outcome, lab-grown meat is no longer in the realm of science fiction and that scares me.