Clean Meat?

Today, the Wall Street Journal profiled a startup creating “clean” chicken strips. A startup called Memphis Meats Inc. unveiled chicken strips that can be created in the lab using self-reproducing cells. The idea is to eliminate the costs associated with raising animals like chickens, cows, and pigs by creating the meat of these animals in a laboratory setting.

Per Capita Consumption of Poultry and Livestock, 1965 to Estimated 2016, in Pounds from the National Chicken Council

While this isn’t something new, Memphis Meats is the first to the game to be able to produce chicken in the lab. In the US, consumption of chicken has been on the rise.

With cost of raising livestock constantly rising, innovation like this has the potential to revolutionize consumer markets. It also offer the opportunity for more “ethical” raising of livestock. Meat that doesn’t have to be raised from young won’t face factory farming conditions we see throughout the world today.

There are other ethical considerations for a world where lab-grown meat becomes popular. Schaefer and Savulescu examine the ethics of invitro meat in a paper published in the Journal of Applied Philosophy.

We examine in detail three potential objections: 1) in vitro meat is disrespectful, either to nature or to animals; 2) it will reduce the number of happy animals in the world; and 3) it will open the door to cannibalism.

The article by Schaefer and Savulescu is worth a read as it addresses all three of the points I listed above quoted from their abstract.

There should be great excitement for a world with lab-grown meat. With advances in technology, lab-grown meat could have impacts as large as innovations like crop rotation and high yield rice seeds. The question is, when the day comes to sit down and eat a lab-grown chicken finger or chicken breast, will you eat it and will it taste any different?