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Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

Posted February 10, 2016 3:00 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: diet Laboratory meat stem cell

In recent years there has been a significant shift in how Americans consider and purchase their food. Sometime around 2000 it seems generic grocery shoppers began to care more about the quality and sourcing of the ingredients, than the convenience or the price point. The rise of specialty foods and stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's speaks to this, and no matter your or my opinion on the subject, the industry is growing significantly (22% sales growth between 2012 and 2014).

So of course this cultural shift in food attitudes is going to also affect how food is grown or produced. More sustainable agricultural processes inspired and sparked indoor farming. Vegans and animal cruelty advocates are the main market for laboratory synthesized meat, which also benefits from a significantly reduced greenhouse footprint. For our purposes, we'll call it shmeat.

The idea of shmeat has existed since 1931, and the first in vitro cultivation of specific tissues occurred in 1971. In the 1990s, these techniques were parlayed into the development of stem cell tissues, which could be eaten, but were not used for that purpose. Instead, that distinction goes to a fish fillet grown from goldfish cells by BioScience Research Consortium in 2002.

Fast forward another 11 years, and we have the first lab-growth burger. Professor Mark Post, of Maastricht University, took cow muscle stem cells and cultured them with nutrients and growth chemicals. A few weeks later millions of stem cells had developed, and were then placed into petri dishes to coalesce into strips of muscle just a centimeter long and a few millimeters thick. These muscle strips were frozen until about 20,000 were grown, which was enough to be compacted into the burger.

The burger was white, so researchers added beetroot juice to provide a more natural color. After being prepared by a professional chef, the burger was given to an Austrian food critic, who noted: "I was expecting the texture to be more soft... there is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The mouthfeel is like meat. I miss the fat, there's a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger. What was consistently different was flavor."

Does that glowing review have you craving a lab-growth burger yet? Likely not, but development on the product continues. Notably, that original lab burger was manufactured at a cost of $325,000, but today costs just $11, and Professor Post expects it to be commercially competitive within a decade.

Of course there are questions. What will shmeat look, smell, and taste like? If it can't compete with in these key properties, it will never be a meat alternative. How healthy will it be? Well the meat could be doped with nutrients, and would be processed in a facility cleaner than a slaughterhouse, for sure. Is it all-natural or genetically engineered? Who knows! Could we grow people meat to consume? Sure.

While I'm not professing my desire for an all-meat diet, I can safely say that my diet for the immediate future will be a no shmeat diet.

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#1

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/10/2016 5:06 PM

I would as long as it tastes like real meat.

Fast forward 100 years, I suspect all meat will be manufactured. Human nature being what it is, at that time we will probably be judged as savages for eating animals.

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#11
In reply to #1

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 10:22 AM

How about jams and jellys made from reconstituted catfish whiskers?

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#2

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/10/2016 5:19 PM

If it tastes good to me then yes I will!

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#3

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/10/2016 6:06 PM

What did you think was in a Slim Jim?!!

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#4

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/10/2016 6:39 PM

Dinosaurus burger...?

I think the organic food craze is just a fad....rich people like to think they can afford better, so they pay more, even if it's in reality inferior quality....it costs more it must be better, right...? Nope just more expensive....

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#10
In reply to #4

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 10:09 AM

This is definitely one of the more intriguing opportunities. If scientists or manufacturers could produce rare tissues, say dodo bird or mammoth meat, and can get the money behind it, exotic meat sales could be a driving force for this business (some day).

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#5

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/10/2016 10:44 PM

Heck, I eat sausage, baloney, pepperoni, . . . . . why not? As long as it tastes good (texture, smell, appearance to some degree, etc)

OK, I do make an exception for head cheese. <shudder>

A tip of the hat to those who can . . . . You're a better man/woman than me.

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#6

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 1:04 AM

The fake chik 'n' nuggets beat out the real thing when the local newspaper did a taste test. But when you see how some of those chickens are raised it's not surprising.

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#7

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 9:02 AM

Would I eat it - if it tastes reasonably good, yes.

Will Americans eat it? That depends on our TV news services. There is no surprise that we have shifted to the organic side when choosing food. We've been harped at, almost nightly for about 20 years, about how many pesticides are in our fruits and vegetables, and how many steroids and anti-virals are in our meat. Our media services have created a huge distrust of gene modified foods as well. They never report what good any of this has done - only what harms are possible from said things. Sensationalism creates ratings you know.

If the media thinks it is worth promoting, Americans will accept them. If not, it is a losing cause to try to develop them.

Repressive countries have their government to formulate the general populace beliefs. We have our major news services to "guide" us. Propaganda is propaganda no matter the source.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 10:06 AM

I wholeheartedly agree. We're left with talking heads to form general opinions, when these people have no expertise or credentials in what they are discussing 95% of the time.

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 10:26 AM

The real kicker is when they interview Mr. and Mrs. Hippie Wannabe (wish this was the 60's so there were some real environmental issues to gripe about)* with their PhD in a Liberal Arts subject and they are expounding on the dangers of GMO foods. Don't you love it? Ever hear the GMO scientist's opinions? No.

* don't want to start a Vietnam pro/con argument so we'll stick with the environmental issues of the era

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#15
In reply to #12

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 3:09 PM

Well, I for one, have nothing against the concept and principle of GMO's. What I *DO* object to is companies like Monsanto trying to gain 'total control' of food.

"If you use Monsanto corn you MUST water it with the Monsanto GR-98 vitamin supplement weekly or it will wither and die. You are also FORBIDDEN from storing a portion of the crop to harvest seeds from for the next planting, you MUST buy your seed from us, EVERY TIME you plant, at WHATEVER price we decide to gouge you with. If we find threshing machines on your property, we will consider this evidence of an intent to breach your contract with us and we WILL prosecute to the FULLEST EXTENT of the law, or MORE. If you do not use out seed and your field gets cross-polinated by the farmer's field upwind, which *IS* using our seed, we WILL prosecute you for theft. etc, etc."

GMO's are fine, corporate power-grabs make me sick to my stomach.

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 3:53 PM

Well, I'm out of that sector now and been out for about 40 years. My Father had a hardware store that was primarily there to serve the farmers of a county where agriculture was the only "industry". I used to read the Farm Journal every month. Most of my high school class were sons and daughters of farmers. Being away from that sector so long, I had no idea that Monsanto was that into forming a monopoly. Sorry to hear that.

However, with the way industrial secrets are being disbursed to other countries these days, you can understand a bit of that concern that Monsanto has. They have a lot of money tied up in research in products, and they are basically uncontrollable. Keeping a plant from spreading is usually futile. How much success is Pa having trying to control invasive species of plants? Very little as witnessed by their efforts in the same areas of this county every year for the same plants that continue to grow despite the efforts. You mentioned the cross pollination problem. And, that's in an area of the country where the winds blow wild. How they keep control of their products is beyond understanding. Birds carry the seeds around. Winds blow the pollen around. Yeah, I can see how they have become so obsessive about control. Not good for the farmer, for sure.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/12/2016 9:38 AM

"However, with the way industrial secrets are being disbursed to other countries these days, you can understand a bit of that concern that Monsanto has."

Then why is Monsanto pushing their 'proprietary'/'do not try to replant' crops as the ones to get shipped out to third-world nations. That's just predatory tactics against the poor.

"Keeping a plant from spreading is usually futile."

Unless you engineer the plant to not produce a vitamin or hormone needed for healthy growth or seed production, and then sell the synthesized version as a 'supplement.' It's treating agriculture like printer sales; sell the seed, then sell Monsanto Brand water at an inflated price to nurture the seeds.

---

I'm not saying Monsanto is Evil, no public corporation really fits that definition. If you look at a for-profit public corporation's actions and motivations, you would find they are, to use the psychology terms, "Greedy, amoral sociopaths," that's why we need strong government regulations in place and enforced to keep these 'artificial persons' in line. They have no sense of morals, no trace of empathy, barely any sense of ethics; if underpaying workers increases profits, they will do it if they can get away with it. If following environmental regulations is more expensive than dumping toxic chemicals into the Flint river, where do you think the chemicals are going to go? If a mistake in production ended up with lead-painted baby toys, and the announcement at this time would sour a business deal worth a few billion dollars, do you think they'll jump up and issue the recall, or will they wait 'just a year or two' until the ink is dry on the contract, all the while, babies are happily chewing on the lead-painted duckies? The only 'long term savings' the corporations look at is "If we buy/bribe/'lobby' these politicians to change the laws in our favor and defund the agencies crawling on our backs(1), how long will it take to make the money back from the increased profits?" The corporations cannot HELP being 'Greedy, amoral sociopaths," it's just the nature of the beast when you have committees and boards of directors making the decisions, and the bottom line is "keeping the stock price high/maximizing the dividends to the shareholders." We need strong laws restricting corporations in the same way we need strong bars on the tiger enclosure at the zoo; neither the corporation nor the tiger are actively malicious towards us, it is simply that they are too dangerous to be allowed to roam free and unfettered.

Sorry if this became a soapbox, but with all the corporate money being dumped into the election for the past two years, with another year to go, it's getting pretty sickening that people aren't waking up and demanding the quick 'crib murder' of the growing Corporate State.

Notes:

  1. They normally reference another part of the anatomy, a little lower than the back, but I try to avoid using vulgar terms in public forums.
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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/12/2016 10:02 AM

I understand your plight, but all I'm seeing is an attempt to control their highly engineered product, that normally would spread far and wide on it's own, from being stolen.(the missing vitamin/hormone) No Monsanto water = no crop, so stealing becomes impossible.

I believe their product is also the best choice for growth / high yield, which is what you want for third world countries. More out for less input, right? That is a very prime setting for a competitive nation (I think one comes immediately to mind) to come in and steal their engineering, is it not? Hard to control in the USA, becomes a near night mare task in a third world country.

I agree most larger corporations are as you described them, but government control is listing toward Fascism, is it not?

I believe the toxic chemicals in the Flint River, at least the lead we are concerned with, is actually in the many miles of century old lead pipes in the city. The water is a bit more acidic than the previous source, which is quite normal, but that allowed it to etch off years of carbonate deposits on the lead pipes. Better check that one out.

I think that the current state of the legal system in this country, with lawsuits being filed over people not reading labels clearly stating what a product is intended for (see the suit over motor oil marked as not for engines built past 1988) that no corporation in this country is going to knowingly let lead get out for a short while, no, no way. Our over zealous legal eagles are handling that concern.

That said, yes, corporations are getting a bit too large, but that is the basis of Capitalism, is it not? Laissez faire.

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#22
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Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/12/2016 11:44 AM

"That said, yes, corporations are getting a bit too large, but that is the basis of Capitalism, is it not? Laissez faire."

Well, if we, as a nation had kept that 'hands off' attitude, we would still be living in a world where the following would not be considered 'people,' but rather 'property' or 'vermin,' depending on who you asked"

  • Women
  • Blacks
  • Jews
  • Gays
  • Indians
  • Children
  • and as they arrived in there respective waves
    • Italians
    • Chinese (to include all orientals at the time)
    • Irish
    • Catholics
    • East Europeans
    • Far-Easterners

The United States of America was founded to be a nation run by the Rule of Law, not the Whims of Men, and it has been through civil debate, heated arguments and even bloody confrontations, that we have realized that we had not given full Rights and Freedoms to all citizens, and we had to fight against the 'one percenters,' the 'corporations' of the day, to secure those rights. The Corporations, being the 'Greedy, amoral sociopaths' that they are, will do something that is 'good for the bottom line' regardless of the consequences, unless they metaporicaly get 'Gibbs-smacked' and told in a firm voice "NO!" Right now they're trying to 'buy' the government, because nobody is punishing them for trying, and if they *DO* manage to get in control, then they will change the laws to revert us to the days of the Rail Barons, or the Plantation Owners, because those were eras that were 'good for profit.' Then we will have a small Oligarchy (The Corporate Heads) owning/controlling everything in the country, and THAT, my dear friend, *IS* facism.

What we have here, and what the Founding Fathers saw in their wisdom, is multiple groups, each one horrible for the country, fighting each other for control. As long as they are fighting each other, and no single group gets too much power, they cannot screw us over. The Federal government is three distinct branches (Legislative, Judicial, Executive) Specifically to distribute power so no one branch can become the 'king.' Similarly, we need the government to regulate the Corporations, and to punish them for infractions, so the Corporations to not take over and rule the country according to their whims. We need one Demon, which we can mostly control, to stand up and keep punching the other Demon, the one we cannot control, in the face when it tries to get too powerful. (I haven't even talked about the other-other Demon, Wall Street/Big Banking, but that is another rant, for another time, and besides, Wall Street tends to side with the Corporations most of the time, so most of what I say against Corporate takeovers of the government just gets copy-pasted when talking about Banking takeovers of the government.)

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#20
In reply to #17

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/12/2016 11:27 AM

Keeping a plant from spreading is usually futile.

If that's true, then it's not right to prosecute the neighboring farmers who don't purchase the Monsanto product, but get contaminated by through no fault of their own. How is it, or why should it be, the responsibility of a farmer who doesn't want it in the first place?

Why wouldn't Monsanto (or at least the farmer who's using their product) be guilty of pollution for contaminating their neighbor's fields?

How do we know that Monsanto doesn't have a plan to drive around blowing seed out of a truck into unsuspecting farmer's fields with an eye toward prosecution at some later date?

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#21
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Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/12/2016 11:43 AM

I suspect some of this is blown out of proportion. The only lawsuits I could find, actually went the other way - non GMO's suing GMO crop planters for cross "contamination" destroying their non-GMO labeling. They've failed so far. The best example was in Australia that deems non-GMO to be 100% that way and a "polluted" farmer failed to get anything from the GMO planter, nor an injunction to desist in planting GMO crops. Obviously it is going to happen, unless you try huge buffer zones, as the UK has. It is going to happen, Monsanto's rules be damned. Courts are not full of idiots. They know you can't control plant pollen in windy areas.

We better face it as well as Monsanto. In a decade or so ALL crops will have some GMO DNA in them. Sorry non-GMO vegans. You lose on this one.

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#8

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 9:20 AM

"the burger was given to an Austrian food critic, who noted: "I was expecting the texture to be more soft... there is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The mouthfeel is like meat. I miss the fat, there's a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger. What was consistently different was flavor."

Reminds me of the first time I tried a Bocca Burger (That's one of the major brands of 'vegiburgers' in the US) after one of those fundraising 'walking marathons.'

I took one bite, and said the following four words:

"Not bad. Not beef."

I still finished it off, A) I had just finished a 'walking marathon.' so I was HUNGRY, and B) it wasn't unpleasant tasting, they actually managed to have chopped pepper in the blend, but at a level that made it a 'spice,' not a 'tastes like burning.' If I'm at a picnic and Bocca are the only thing on the menu, will I eat it? Yes. Will I pick up those vegiburgers to grill up at home, when there are beep patties right next to it in the supermarket freezer? No.

Fake beef is getting closer to being a viable option, but it's not there yet.

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#13

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 11:51 AM
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#14

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 11:57 AM

Is there something wrong with eating real meat? What do you do with all the farmers then, take up the land and build houses and parking garages? Or labs to grow a roast joint. 'Just going to the lab to grow a burger honey, back in a jiff!'

I fear the Jo Public is lead by technology without thought or due diligence!

I love children, but eating a whole one is difficult!!

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#16

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/11/2016 3:16 PM

i enjoy yogurts of all types,candy,potatoe chips,hot-dogs,sauerkraut,etc.etc..if it cooks/tastes good ,has some nutritional value of course i'd eat it...especially with fried onions and lots of ketchup..:)

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#23

Re: Will You Eat Synthesized Meat?

02/16/2016 10:51 AM

I'm sure in time, when it becomes cost effective and it's shown not to have any terrible side effects, that people will embrace it.

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