PETA McNuggets (Part I)

I swear to God I’m not making this up:

From PETA, via Slate:

PETA is now stepping in and offering a $1 million reward to the first scientist to produce and bring to market in vitro meat.

Oh, yes, this is real.  No, it’s not a late April fool’s joke.  The idea, as explained on the PETA site, is this:

Why is PETA supporting this new technology? More than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs, and cows are killed every year for food in the United States in horrific ways. Chickens are drugged to grow so large they often become crippled, mother pigs are confined to metal cages so small they can’t move, and fish are hacked apart while still conscious—all to feed America’s meat addiction. In vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering. In addition, in vitro meat would dramatically reduce the devastating effects the meat industry has on the environment.

Now, call me just darned silly, but many people who belong to PETA are vegetarians, or even vegans, correct?  They “don’t eat anything that has or had a face.”  I think that’s a fair assessment, seeing as I’m a former PETA member and vegetarian myself, and that’s how the bill of goods was sold to me years ago.  I was a vegetarian for 3 years, as I’ve written here before. 

So now we’re skipping the part where the animal has a face, and just growing the tissue, and that’s suddenly OK somehow?  I wonder: those who approve of this, because it “spares animals their suffering” (which I’m really all for, you know): why not clone the meat from humans as well?  Just don’t let it get a face, do the same thing you’re doing here, and voila!  Acceptable cannibalism. 

Reactions from the divided PETA camp, via the Slate article:

Purists see it as a moral surrender. “It’s our job to introduce the philosophy and hammer it home that animals are not ours to eat,” a dissident PETA official tells the Times. Purists also point out that carnivores suffer more obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Getting your meat from stem cells might not change that.

Pragmatists point to all the issues lab meat would resolve. No more cages. No more body-inflating drugs. No more slaughter. Less environmental harm. “We don’t mind taking uncomfortable positions if it means that fewer animals suffer,” Newkirk concludes.

Methinks the PETA folks need some more protein in their diets: they’re really making some crackpot decisions these days. 

(continue to PETA McNuggets Part II)

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6 thoughts on “PETA McNuggets (Part I)

  1. Well, PETA’s argument is that synthetic meat has no brain capacity, and so “it” cannot possibly feel pain because “it” is just a collection of self-replicating flesh cells. Thus, you basically skip the painful execution of an animal and go straight to the supermarket. That’s the pragmatic part of it.

    The philosophical, moral, and ethical aspects are more thorny. While this mystery meat will certainly grow, it’s proponents will argue that it’s more like a plant than an animal. It has no mind, and therefore, you cannot say that it was ever “self-aware” (anymore than a headless man is still “alive”). Opponents will find the implications disturbing for a variety of reasons.

  2. Depending on the process, it also makes environmental and business sense. As India and China’s economies continue to develop and the middle class swells, there will be increased demand for meat. The land requirement to raise a certai caloric amount of livestock is much higher that the land requirement to raise the same caloric amount of vegetables or grains, so with an increasing demand for biofuels and an increasing demand for meat from emerging middle classes, food prices could skyrocket even further as food supplies drop due to land exhaustion.

    Again, depending on the process, vat-grown meat might alleviate both of these issues. This is actually a PETA plan I could support, given rising food insecurity in the world at large and here at home.

  3. I was just thinking that this process, if done appropriately, would not differ much from Star Trek’s “replicated” meat.

    Basically, the principle is the same. Only instead of physically rearranging matter into food products, which is beyond out technological capabilities, they’re proposing a substitute bio-product that you’d grow.

  4. The thing about this that intrigues me is that we could be eating more exotic meats cheaply without impacting on nature. For all we know maybe Bald Eagle is the tastiest meat in the world. Maybe Anteater is better tasting than beef. I hear that Rattlesnake is good. There would be nothing to prevent the scientists from growing new interesting flavors of protein and it could be made lower in fat to be healthier. I’m betting that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference at all in taste.

    Doing this would be a great thing for world hunger and the environment with cheap protein for all and land turned over to grow crops or reforest.

    There is no real downside to this in my estimation. People just need to grow up and let science help solve problems.

  5. Actually, Keith, that’s just it: we don’t have valid science on this yet. And in responding to your comment I found myself explaining so much that I made it a second post. 🙂

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