My husband came home and told me that he heard on the radio that scientists have successfully created lab-grown beef, using a sample from a cow. If the world's cattle population was stricken with plague and this test tube beef was the only option, would you eat it?
What if all of the animals we eat became endangered? Would you eat test tube versions, or become vegetarian?
What do vegans think of test-tube beef? Would they probably not eat it, as it originally came from an animal?
Would you die than eat lab-beef?
Have any of you read Oryx and Crake?
"Soylent beef" does nothing to help nurture the ecosystems we depend on for life on this planet. Traditionally-raised livestock do. If if all of the animals we eat became endangered, then we would, too, in very short order. Teetering on the brink of extinction, I don't think this issue would be relevant for long.
I am all for this. If we can find a (relatively) cheap way to grow healthy meat in a lab, I think it could be a breakthrough in providing good quality protein to the world. It could also replace conventional beef production methods and their massive environmental costs. I wish that truly sustainable farming methods were available to feed on a large scale, but I just can't see it happening. While no doubt distasteful, I view this as a positive for both global nutrition and environmental health.
It currently costs over a qtr. million $ to produce a small hamburger patty's worth of stem-cell cultured cow muscle that grows without fat. Too much strange frankenfood tech for me.
If they can make this affordable, they could make cows affordable. (But you can't copyright cows.)
In theory, I think this is a great idea -- it has the potential to produce nutritious food with much less environmental and resource usage overhead. It's expensive now, but I'm sure that once the technology is established it will become widely available and achieve economies of scale.
However, I'm concerned that we'll end up with a "simplified" version of meat. It will have the right macronutrients and the right proteins, but it won't come from an animal with a circulatory system, a set of organs, a bacterial microbiome, etc., and I suspect that all of those things contribute trace substances that influence the overall nutritional value and the health effects of natural meat.
Analogy: We have the ability to create "lab-grown" vitamin E rather than extracting it from food. What we get is dl-alpha tocopherol. Half of it is one out of eight vitamin E analogs that are produced in nature, each of which might have important health benefits. The other half an enantiomer that doesn't occur in nature at all, and the best we can hope for is that it's biologically inactive. And meat is orders of magnitude more complicated than vitamin E.