In Vitro Meat: The Future of Food?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Last week we talked about the debate around genetically modified vegetables, but what about the food scientists are still trying to engineer: in vitro meat? Animal-rights groups welcome it, but some people wonder if the public can get over its aversion to lab-grown meat.

Can you see yourself ever eating it?

GOOD Magazine suggests that a rebranding campaign might help change public perception of the meat that currently resembles “mouse turds.” But many foods we eat are unappealing at first glance (or sniff) — blue cheese, natto, kimchi — so perhaps the animal welfare and environmental benefits could outweigh the disgusting appearance of in vitro meat.

Regardless, we are a long way from picking up a pound of lab meat from the market; the largest piece of meat grown so far is only the size of a contact lens, and scientists have yet to find a way to efficiently produce animal muscle tissue on a large scale.

Is what they are making real meat? Michael Spector, who wrote about in vitro meat for The New Yorker, told NPR,

“I talked to one scientist and I mentioned this as ‘synthetic meat,’ and she got annoyed,” he says. “She said, ‘This isn’t synthetic. It’s organic. It’s meat. It’s two meat cells growing to become more meat cells.’ And depending on what your definition of any sort of life is, this is as fundamental as any animal is.”

What do you think? Is in-vitro meat a smart option for our future food needs?