Meat futures redux – just leave the brains out

Paul Raven @ 18-04-2008

BullThe best thing about science is the same as the best thing about science fiction – it’s the lively debates and differing opinions. The vat-grown meat story got some fairly wide coverage beyond science fictional circles, so here’s legendary biology-blogger PZ “Pharyngula” Myers’ angle on the issue:

“The more I think about it, the more I think people are going at it backwards. We shouldn’t be thinking about building muscle from the cells up, to create a purified system to produce meat for the market, we should be going the other way, starting with self-sustaining meat producers and genetically paring away the less commercially viable bits, like the brain. Instead of test-tube meat, we should be working on more efficient organisms that generate muscle tissue with the properties we want.”

OK, now I’m fairly easy with the idea of eating meat that’s just a lump of stuff grown in a petri-dish. But animals engineered to not have a nervous sytem? That really is a pretty queasy thought, even though I can see why (rationally) it shouldn’t be. [image by TwoBlueDay]

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3 Responses to “Meat futures redux – just leave the brains out”

  1. Jeremy says:

    That reminds me of the story my college friend kept trying to convince us of: that he had a video of a farm that supplied KFC with its “boneless chicken wings,” where all the chickens were born without any bones. Lumps of flesh they were, I suppose.

    PZ brings up a good point: one of the reasons veal is so desired is the calf’s lack of movement and muscle-building. Anyways, other people in the world eat stranger things than a mammal with no nervous system. Try Vietnamese boiled turtle or boiled duck embryo you eat with a spoon. THAT’s strange. We may not be able to eat it, but our descendents could.

  2. Reesa Brown says:

    Thanks for the brain-stimulating topic! I ended up writing a post about my thoughts spawned from what I read here over at http://dreamcafe.com/words/2008/04/18/vat-me-baby

  3. jon says:

    i’m not sure that would make me any less queasy than taking a tour of the local slaughterhouse to see where my meat comes from now. as long as a steak still looks (and tastes) like a steak from its neat packaging at the supermarket, i’d probably just put its origins out of my mind once again.