Engineered food has just taken another move towards science fiction: artificial meat. Researchers in the Netherlands have grown what they describe as “soggy pork” in a laboratory and believe it will be available for human consumption in about five years. The artificial meat was grown from the live muscle tissue of a pig.
Animal rights advocates, vegetarians, and environmentalists are apparently supporting this new development in engineered foods. The Telegraph reports:
Mark Post, professor of physiology at Eindhoven University, said: “What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue. We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there. This product will be good for the environment and will reduce animal suffering. If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it. You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals.”
Considering the safety concerns of genetically engineered (GE) foods, I sincerely doubt environmentalists and vegetarians truly favor artificial meat. Just this fall, the US District Judge Jeffrey White ruled the US illegally approved genetically modified sugar beets for agriculture and consumption, after 70 companies pledged to boycott GM sugar beets. GE corn has been shown to cause infertility. The hazards of GE foods is well documented. The Organic Consumers Association reports:
GE food and fiber products are inherently unpredictable and dangerous—for humans, for animals, the environment, and for the future of sustainable and organic agriculture. As Dr. Michael Antoniou, a British molecular scientist points out, gene-splicing has already resulted in the “unexpected production of toxic substances… in genetically engineered bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals with the problem remaining undetected until a major health hazard has arisen”. The hazards of ge foods and crops fall into three categories: human health hazards, environmental hazards, and socio-economic hazards.
What will be the consequences of genetically engineered, artificially grown meat?
Backed by the Dutch government, the artificial meat production is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Supporters also claim the GM meat would benefit the Third World; however, we have already seen starving nations reject donations of GM food based on scientific advice. Do less-developed countries really deserve to be GM food experiments?