BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Future of Meat

Robert Bee
Robert Bee's picture

Many Republibot readers were skeptical of 3D printers that produced menu items such as turkey with broccoli cubes. Well how about artificially grown meat? Or meat from a petri dish?

A mad scientist (I mean a brilliant researcher) Vladimir Mironov has developed ways of growing tissue from turkeys, chickens, lambs, pigs, and cows in a bioreactor. Mironov wants to grow meat on a large scale so that as we now have wineries and breweries in the future we’ll have “carneries” that grow artificial meat (http://singularityhub.com/2011/02/23/first-planned-taste-test-for-artifi...).

The easiest meat to grow so far is liver. Mironov planned to have a tasting this August; however, the Medical University of South Carolina has suspended Mironov for “unacceptable behavior.” Again, this evokes the mad scientist trope although I’m not sure what he could possibly have done. Grown human tissue and sold it to cannibals? Perhaps they complained about the taste? Too stringy?

Actually, according to Singularity Hub, the details of Mironov’s suspension sounds like a university soap opera, and probably is related to the $20 million tissue biofabrication for human organs project that Mironov was slated to lead.

One thing I find fascinating is that PETA, the organization opposed to cruelty to animals, helped fund Mironov. Apparently, PETA feels artificial meat would allow awful carnivores like me to eat meat without actually harming animals. We’ll just grow our pig and beef tissue, and traditional farms with their cruel treatment of animals will be abolished.

Actually, there is a future to growing meat. Imagine if the bioreactors become cheap. You could grow your meat in the bioreactors, then grow your veggies in a geodesic dome greenhouse in the backyard, and grow your mushrooms with cultivators in the basement, and have your own gourmet selection of food for little cost. It might even be cheaper than shooting your own food! Maybe not as much fun, but cheaper!

People could specialize: maybe I’ll get really good at growing pork, and R3 will specialize at growing chicken, and we can barter after the economy has collapsed, and the robots have taken all the jobs. So maybe the future will work out OK.

In other food related futuristic news, a culinary institute and an engineering lab have constructed 3D printers that create yummy treats such as miniature space shuttles made of ground scallops and cheese. Food pastes can be squirted from the printer in a variety of 3D shapes (http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/02/28/technology-3d-printer...). This treat sounds better than turkey and broccoli cubes and would make a wonderful appetizer to go with your vat grown liver and onions.

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Staffwriter Robert Bee is a professional librarian and a freelance writer in New Jersey. He can be reached at rightrob@republibot.com

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