Meat O Matic Revisited
Back in 2005, I wrote about a future where companies manufactured meat rather than cutting up animals. In that piece, I covered some of the ethical implications and the effect it would have on farmers who currently make a living through meat production. Now the Associated Press reports that Dutch scientists have made great strides in that direction.
The Dutch method involves using stem cells from the muscles of existing animals. They put the stem cells into a bath of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and let things run. If things continue progressing, they will get to a point where they will no longer need to harvest the stem cells. In no time at all, we can start producing hot dogs with meat that has never been part of an animal, much like hot dogs today.
The future of livestock
This leads to several big questions, the biggest is about the future of cows. Right now, cows are rather numerous as mammals go. This is because we take care of them as part of making them into food. We give them food and health care. If we aren't going to eat them, there isn't a strong motivation to expend that many resources on them.
It's not like we can release cows into the wild. The cows we have today are no longer the wild creatures their ancestors were. Through animal husbandry, we have created creatures adapted rather well to be eaten. I'm sure the predators of the wilds can appreciate this. The same applies to other livestock, though pigs have shown a strong ability to readapt to wild living.
It looks like the animal rights activists will have won when the last domesticated cow has died.
Would you eat it?
Would you be willing to fill your belly with this stuff? It will eventually be indistinguishable from real meat, except for the lack of bad fats and such. You won't have to worry about disease, because it was grown in a controlled environment. You don't have to worry that some animal was harmed to make your sandwich. You don't have to think about whether or not your meal once had a soul.
In fact, as long as you keep bugs and electricity away from the meat, it should be rather safe. Insects and other vermin will be just as interested in eating it, so you'll need to take steps to keep things safe. The electricity thing is just to keep the meat from dancing around like Frankenstein's Monster.
Science is amazing
That's it, science is amazing and can do all sorts of things. In no time at all, you will be able to take muscle stem cells from your enemy and convert it into a steak that you can enjoy with some asparagus and a white wine.