Last week was a strange one for animal news. There was a call to more tightly regulate experiments performed on human/animal hybrids (OK, didn't we learn anything from Splice?), then there was the McDonald's manager who got mad at a customer who came in with a service dog... and ended up punching her in the face (apparently, the manager had never heard of the Americans With Disabilities Act), and finally, that poor guy who got bit 19 times by a black widow spider... yeesh.
But what really caught our eye were all the stories on petri meat, or attempts to grow edible meat not on a farm, but in a lab...
How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer stem cells?
Can't deny that there's a gut-level "ick" reaction to the very idea of petri meat. People aren't just concerned about the welfare of animals in agriculture nowadays, but the sci-fi feel to the entire process. Granted, we are able to feed a lot more people than ever before, and it means industrialized countries spend a much smaller percentage of their income on food (ironically, the very thing that allows us the free time to pontificate upon the welfare of animals). But that doesn't change the feeling that the process is sterile, unnatural, and far removed from an authentic human existence -- especially when stuff like antibiotics, soy, corn, and GMOs come into the picture. Petri meat plays directly to that aesthetic.
And aside from the gut-level reaction, there is also the fact that this research is being bankrolled by PETA, as part of their endless quest to get meat off the menu (unless it's grown in a lab, apparently). So even if the end result is positive, their intent is undoubtedly nefarious.
But on the other hand, given the fact that millions of people (mostly kids) die from starvation each year, maybe it's better to get over queasiness in the face of easily-produced, high-protein lab "meat." Really, can it be that much worse than SPAM?
It's a brave new world indeed.
What say you? Would you put petri meat on your menu?