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IEET > Security > Eco-gov > Life > Health > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Staff > Kyle Munkittrick

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Is Vat-Grown Meat Organic?

Kyle Munkittrick
By Kyle Munkittrick
Science Not Fiction

Posted: Feb 7, 2011

I am not very ethical about how I eat. I am not proud of this, but it is the truth. I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. In fact, I eat a lot of bacon and beef - I’d probably eat Soylent Green if given the option.

I think the loco-vore movement is silly, and I think “organic” is a misnomer on nine out of ten things labeled as such. Most ethical foodies prefer “natural” and humane production methods. My question for all the ethical foodies out there: what are your thoughts on the very unnatural possibility of vat-grown meat?

cowAllow me to elaborate.

Vat-grown meat is still a work in progress. But it is a real possibility. One of the scientists trying to make it a reality is Dr. Vladimir Mironov. He envisions giant factories called “carneries” that create meat the same way a brewery brews beer. One of his many goals is to be able to add taste and texture controlling features like fat and vascular systems to make his test-tube steaks as delicious as the real thing:

“It will be functional, natural, designed food,” Mironov said. “How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture.”

Vat-grown meat is a godsend for those of us who are omnivores but who recognize the significant flaws with our current agricultural system. Many factory farms keep animals in inhumane conditions and the industry around animal meat is an incredibly wasteful and polluting. The current response to these conditions is to support organic, local, and humane farming practices. The problem, of course, is that organic, local, and humane practices are economically inefficient, which makes the cost of ethical food prohibitive for most of us.

Yet, I see vat-grown meat as presenting a significant conundrum to many supporters of the ethical/organic food movement: it’s too unnatural.


Kyle Munkittrick, IEET Program Director: Envisioning the Future, is a recent graduate of New York University, where he received his Master's in bioethics and critical theory.
Nicole Sallak Anderson is a Computer Science graduate from Purdue University. She developed encryption and network security software, which inspired the eHuman Trilogy—both eHuman Dawn and eHuman Deception are available at Amazon, the third installment is expected in early 2016. She is a member of the advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
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As an almost lifelong vegetarian I would welcome vat-grown meat. I’d have not problems using it. We could possibly even improve the nutritional profile of meat with good fats and micro-nutrients.
Hell, I’d even like to try vat-grown human meat.

The fear of genetically modified food in theory may be irrational and/or an aesthetic preference, but concern over its current implementation by big business emphatically ain’t. Monsanto would make a solid villain in a science fiction thriller or comic book. The intersection of biotechnology and intellectual property laws allows for some impressively dirty dealings.

Vat-grown meat sounds reasonable to me, though I have little interested into consuming flesh again myself.

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