Scientists around the world are working to invent a viable way to engineer in-vitro meat – that is meat grown inside a test tube from animal muscles and tissues without using live animals in order to form a simplified version of meat. Besides being a healthier option for humans (due to the decreased amount of saturated fat), it also provides a more sustainable alternative for the environment by reducing carbon emissions produced annually from the meat industry. Another incentive to produce cultured meat is to reduce the spread of diseases such as swine flu, avian flu, mad cow disease, and contamination from Salmonella. Not to mention the commercial and financial rewards possible if in-vitro meats become marketable, which may happen within the next 3-10 years.
As a show of support, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered a $1 million prize to the first team who can "produce an in-vitro chicken-meat product that has a taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken flesh to non-meat-eaters and meat-eaters alike; and manufacture the approved product in large enough quantities to be sold commercially... at a competitive price," as noted to the article.
In another article published in H+, Hank Hyena outlines an optimistic and imaginative vision of ways in-vitro meat (IVM), also called tank steak, sci-fi sausage, petri pork, beaker bacon, or Frankenburger, may change the future. Stating that this could be as socially transformative as the invention of the airplane, he explores the end of ranches and the rise of urban cowboys, world economic upheaval, exotic and kinky meats such as snow leopard, as well as the abolition of guilt from eating meat-based products.
While not quite vegan-approved, Hyena states that IVM has the support of groups such as Animal Liberation, Vegetarian Federation of Germany (VEBU), Ethical Vegetarian Alternative of Belgium (EVA), and the Dutch Vegetarian Society. And of course, PETA, who has offered a financial reward to the first group who produces a competitive and marketable in-vitro meat product by 2012.
Image: "Manufacturing Meat" by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.