In 1931, Winston Churchill predicted a future in which all the world’s meat would be grown in labs. Churchill asked, “What, was the sense in raising a whole chicken merely for the sake of its wings or breast meat?” Where did he come up with that idea? What kind of mad science was he privy to in the early 1930s that caused him to predict lab-produce meat? Can you imagine the funny looks and the gossip that followed such a statement?
That would be the equivalent to President Obama predicting that in the future we will be visiting cantinas on Mars and taking honeymoon trips on the actual moon.
Its been 84 years since Churchill’s odd prediction, but he has finally been vindicated. He wasn’t crazy after all, he was quite the visionary. Because, right now, there are several labs working on that exact problem. The world’s population is growing, yet the earth has only a finite amount of land. 30% of the Earth’s inhabitable land mass is used for the production of meat. If we could reduce that to 5%, new villages, towns, and cities could take the place of factory farms.
Most people who witness the way animals are treated in factory farms would categorize it as cruelty. These farms also have a measurable negative impact on the environment. Antibiotics are used on these animals to reduce loss from disease. Growth hormones are given to animals to fatten them up so they can get the to market quicker. As consumers of this meat, we also ingest these antibiotics and growth hormones to the possible detriment of our own health. On the other hand, lab grown meat removes all these issues. The amount of land needed to produce the same amount of meat is drastically reduced and other environmental issues are eliminated.
The process of growing meat in the lab still requires an animal, but the animal is not killed. One cow would replace many thousands. The process starts with a small biopsy of a cow’s myoblast cells (also known as stem cells). The cow is not slaughtered. These myoblast cells multiply, increasing in volume until they have reached the desired mass. Once the first batch of meat is grown, the next batch could be started with a sampling of the first.
This method of growing meat in a lab can offer so much more than just replicas of beef, pork, and chicken. Imagine tasting the meat of a rare species, like Polar Bear or Python. Artisan blends created by famous chefs could be developed.
One of these meat producing companies, Bitelabs, is adding an even wilder twist to this concept. And to be honest, it is a little creepy. Bitelabs is going to offer celebrity meat. That’s right, meat cultured from a biposy from a celebrity donor. I am not aware of any celebrity who has signed up for this, yet. But Bitelabs is urging tweeters to tweet their favorite celebrities and urge them to offer a little of piece of themselves in the interest of science.
This idea may have the unintended consequence of shining daylight on vampires, cannibals, necrophiliacs, and Jeffrey Daumer wanna-bes. We may be sorry we opened up that can of worms.
If you decide to tweet some celebrities about this novel way to connect with their fans, make sure you are selecting the right celebrity. I would personally not tweet the likes of Charlie Sheen because of all the bad stuff he puts into his body.
It might be a better choice to convince someone like Ellen DeGeneres who became a vegan after watching footage taken at slaughterhouses and dairy farms. Since she is so opposed to the way livestock is treated, she might be the first celebrity to get behind this science. She could go down in history as the first edible talk show host.
If Bitelabs is looking for a catchy product name they might consider “Soylent Green”. That’s the title of a 1973 sci-fi movie, starring Charlton Heston. It takes place in our not too distant future (the year 2022) and portrays an overpopulated world facing food shortages and starvation.
With our global population tipping the scale at 7-billion people, the dystopian world depicted in this movie may be predicting our real future, which includes a bio-engineered food source called Soylent Green that is distributed to the population on Tuesdays only.
Below is a very short clip showing Charlton Heston’s character revealing the secret ingredient in the government-supplied food, Soylent Green.