Meat is one of those topics that is increasingly coming up in all sectors of the economy. Meat production is running alongside the ethics of eating it in many peoples’ lives making an alternative increasingly tempting but technologically unavailable. Imagine a world where meat really did grow on trees. That’s one dream scientists are currently working to make a reality. But if meat becomes free, will chickens go extinct?
If it looks like meat and tastes like meat it’s meat, right? Well, up until now vegetarians and the friends and relatives of vegetarians have had these two topics come up as a divide between them. In addition to groups advocating the rights of animals there are dozens of reasons why several economists have become outspoken on the topic of food production. If meat were just to grow on trees, it may actually reach a level where it won’t cost anywhere near as much. And in enclosed and controlled environments there would be less room for variables like disease and famine.
The researchers, who once upon a time were receiving funding from NASA before their funding was pulled, and their project had to seek other outlets for their research. The project is headed by Vladimir Mironov. And if the tests sound creepy now, perhaps describing the process of cellular division as being like cancer with the division of cells after death won’t make it much more appetizing. But there’s a very real reason this process could change the world for the better if it were adopted.
Charlem, as it would be called, (short for Charleston Engineered Meat) would be textured to taste like whatever cut of whatever animal was needed for a given recipe. Rather than depending on a single ground quantity, it could be designed to even have flavor like chicken and even beef. In the controlled environment it could even be engineered to be hostile to certain diseases. And while it would technically be animal meat, it wouldn’t necessarily be the meat of any specific animal. It may not grow on trees, but it will grow in biovats. But the meat will have bones, blood vessels carrying meat to the cells, and even fat in them. The process comes from embryonic tissues which then grow and expand into a genetically modified animal without a mind that is simply tissue suspended in a processing vat.
And while it might seem macabre, the process might actually free up 30% of the Earth’s land mass once dedicated to meat production through housing, waste management, and food growth for the animals and even drive down the cost of the process immensely, not to mention reducing the cost of feed growth.
But there is another question about cows and pigs and chickens in a world where we grow our meat in labs – one not being asked often. If we suddenly all decided we no longer needed these animals for our meat production, what would happen to these species? Mankind has long since bred these animals for human consumption exclusively. And those that are alive today will not be allowed to live in captivity and continue their species. It may seem like a small matter, but what will we do with 1.5 billion cattle when we come up with a better source for the world’s meat supply?