“You might imagine that in 10 or 20 years from now cultured meat will be produced in a cannery” (Stephen Ornes). Nicholas Genovase, a biologist at the university of Missouri-Columbia, stated this regarding an alternative way to manufacture meat. Cultured meat, also called “stem cell burgers” or “in vitro meat”,is the product of a process in which scientists grow stem cells from a cow’s shoulder in a petri dish in a laboratory, ultimately creating a burger (Catherine Mayer). Once the stem cells are taken and put onto the petri dish, a gel that is made by the blood of the animal is placed to nourish the cells. The gel contains necessary nutrients that help grow the cells. The cells begin to divide and clump into myotubes. Myotubes are the fibers caused by the clumps of cells.
Then, the myotubes are placed in a new dish with more gel in the center. The cells bond around the gel and become a ring of muscle tissue, and many muscle tissues create the burger (Nick Collins). This burger is very similar to regular meat except for the extraordinary fact that no animals will be killed to make it. SInce the cells are identical to the cells that are in conventional meat, this could be the solution to our need for meat.
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With the rising population, food, especially meat, is a global demand. The population of people, projected to double by the year 2050, is increasing at a faster rate than the population of livestock (Catherine Mayer). We do not even have enough land to raise livestock without abuse, in order to meet the requirement of sustenance. The world needed an innovative way to generate meat.
Cultured meat is a possible answer to this emanating worldwide problem. However, there is controversy towards this idea. There are people who question its authenticity, and are skeptical if it is a true necessity. Despite the arguments and doubts, stem cell burgers should be synthesized because they are a more productive way to produce food and they provide a good alternative to factory farming. Firstly, this type of meat is definitely authentic. It comes from the same cells that conventional meat is made from, and under a microscope, will look identical to the cells of conventional meat. Despite this, there are still critics who ask if the burger will taste, look and feel like a traditional burger. As of now, the stem cell burger is not perfectly identical to a traditional burger.
The stem cell burgers are white because they lack blood. Hanni Rutzler, a nutritional scientist, tasted the in vitro burger. “It’s close to meat,” she said as she tried to swallow it with some difficulty (Catherine Mayer). It was a little too solid and so it was difficult to swallow.
It does not yet taste, feel and look exactly like meat. However, scientists are still working on improving this new invention to make it the ideal. Professor Mark Post, creator of cultured beef, says that the problem with the cultured beef is just a “technical bottleneck,” meaning the whole invention is effected because of limited components or resources.
He is trying to improve his burger by figuring out how to put tasty fat into it with the right kinds of fat cells (Catherine Mayer). Because this is a new invention, it will take time and many adjustments until the meat can achieve its goals. With some refinements, it could be a practical and convenient way to solve the growing demand for meat. Professor Mark Post said, “We are going to provide a proof of concept showing out of stem cells we can make a product that looks, feels and hopefully tastes like meat” (Nick Collins). A proof of concept is a demonstration that shows that an idea can be a feasible application. Post promises to illustrate how cultured beef would be doable and helpful in the real world. As an addition to the different alterations they are making to make the burger finer, Post would like a celebrity chef to help cook the burger so it can taste its best. Post is doing everything he can to in hopes to make the burger even better and more accurate.
Certainly, stem cell burgers are safe and good for the environment, as opposed to livestock production. Livestock production currently uses 30% ice free global land, 8% of freshwater and produce 18% of greenhouse gas emissions ( Hanna L. Tuomisto, M. Joost Teixeira de Mattos). Raising animals in the ways that are done nowadays are damaging and increase pollution (Nick Collins). The pesticides and drugs that are used, also pollute the soil. Then, by growing, harvesting, and eating animals, the greenhouse gases grow in the atmosphere, like methane and carbon dioxide.
The process of deforestation, where trees from a forest are removed to make room for animals, add to the expansion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Stephen Ornes). Greenhouse gases are the gases that affect the greenhouse effect, or global warming. Clearly, this way of raising wildlife is more harmful than helpful. If the population doubles as it is projected to, the effects of meat consumption will double as well.
Thus, stem cell burgers are therefore a possible prevention of climate change. With stem cell burgers, we would not need to use pesticides and drugs. The greenhouse gases would not be released and there would no longer be a need for deforestation.
Considering this, stem cell burgers would be beneficial to the problem of climate change. Furthermore, this alternative to traditional meat is safer for animals. It is really the only current way to eat meat without harming the animal it comes from. For the animal rights movement, it is the most ethical way to eat prime meat. One can eat meat with the complete permission of the donor (Michael Brooks). PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, supports and appreciates the project of the stem cell burger. They have funded it for seventeen years, pleased that it will reduce the suffering of animals (Catherine Meyer).
Now, they have offered a $1 million prize to the person who creates and sells chicken that was grown outside of the bird (Stephen Ornes). They have also been funding Genovese’s research. This animal’s rights organization is not encouraging cultured meat solely for the reason of that no animals will be killed. They are against a process of raising livestock known as factory farming.
Factory farming includes battery cages, which is a small wire cage for hen, gestation crates, which is a metal enclosure used for pig farming, and force feeding birds to harvest their fatty livers. If meat-lovers had stem cell burgers instead of conventional meat, the cruelty that is caused by factory farming can be reduced. (Evelyn B.
Pluhar)Moreover, cultured beef is not only advantageous for the environment and for animals, it is healthier for humans as well traditional meat. Because the scientists are able to control engineered meat, they can fine-tune it to improve health benefits . When red meat is highly consumed it can cause diseases including different types of cancer. With more research and experiments, scientists may be able to advance the nutritional value in engineered meat by altering the way it is grown (Stephen Ornes). For instance, scientists can manipulate the type and amounts of fat, reducing nutrition-related diseases like cardiovascular diseases.
Plus, because of the decreased contact humans would have with animals, stem cell burgers will prevent the spread of diseases that are animal-born diseases (Hanna L. Tuomisto, M. Joost Teixeira de Mattos). Plus, people who work in slaughterhouses are usually sadistic, and brutalized by what they do everyday (Evelyn B. Pluhar). Therefore, stem cell burgers can also be a possible prevention of many health risks. Stem cell burgers are the future for meat as we know it.
They clearly prove to be a sufficient, realistic and superior alternative to conventional meat and all its problems. They are better for the environment, animals, and for health benefits. With some revisions, cultured beef can be tasting exactly, or even better than traditional meat. Be sure to look out for in vitro meat in your supermarkets and on your menus shortly!