A piece in The Independent this weekend got me thinking about whether I’d be happy to eat meat grown in-vitro. It’s a while off, but with the first ‘lab-grown burger’ being served up next week, would you take a bite?
If I’m honest I’m not keen on burgers at the best of times. This is largely for fear of knowing what’s in them. But given that I like Quorn burgers – which to me aren’t too psychologically dissimilar from in-vitro burgers given that they’re grown from fungi – I feel like it would be wrong for me to turn my nose up at the prospect.
According to the Independent’s article, each Briton eats about 85kg of meat a year, which roughly translates into 33 chickens, one pig, three-quarters of a sheep and a fifth of a cow. That’s a lot of meat.
Last year you tucked into a guest Conversation from Dr Neil Stephens, Cardiff University Sociologist, about lab-grown burgers. Par ailleurs was worried how vegetarians would take to the meat-substitute:
‘It all sounds a bit iffy to me. It presumably has some ancient connection to animal cells so wouldn’t be acceptable to vegetarians. I disagree that “the rich” pay extra for premium meat products. I’m not rich but I still buy free range and organic. The easy way to do this is to eat a lot less of it and enjoy it more.’
And Malcolm said he’d cut back on his meat intake before taking to test-tube food:
‘As meat becomes more expensive I would eat less, but my gut reaction would be to stick to a real animal product, not manufactured. I do not even like the idea of reformed meat. I seem to remember that many of us (in the wealthier nations) eat substantially more food than we need so perhaps we should also consider trying harder to reduce consumption.’
Your gut reactions
Chris was concerned that producers would get carried away ‘perfecting’ their in-vitro recipes:
‘Once the idea of lab-grown meat is accepted and has found a consumer group, there will be attempts to tinker with the DNA of the source material to introduce different textures and flavours.’
The Food Standards Agency has said that artificial meat would need regulatory approval before going on sale. Manufacturers would have to prove that all the necessary safety tests had been carried out; otherwise we could open a can of worms reminiscent of the horse-meat scandal.
The last time we talked about in-vitro, most of our community said they’d prefer to cut back on meat before taking to the test-tube variety. What about you?