Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pass Me the Mush...

As if the debate on genetically engineered food wasn't enough, scientists now believe it will be possible to produce meat in a laboratory. (BBC: Scientists aim for lab-grown meat).

I must admit, my first reaction was that we're going a bit too far in artificially engineering food. Taking a step back and thinking about it, though, there are some very beneficial practical applications of lab generated meat.
  • We are committed to a permanent lunar settlement and eventually a manned mission to Mars. Being able to grow meat-based food in those colonies would solve one of the basic problems facing permanent space settlements.
  • Laboratory grown food in impoverished regions incapable of supporting their population is a step closer to reducing the amount of famine afflicting large regions in Africa. (My statements about the need for political reform in those regions still stand, however this at least provides us with a viable food source.)
  • Research into the growth of lab produced meat will assist in the study of muscular disease and the development of certain forms of cancer.

The more I look at this type of technology, the more sense it makes to continue down this path. Yes, there are moral and ethical questions that are raised anytime we discuss the artificial creation of anything associated with life. Those discussions are necessary, however they should not impair our search for knowledge or an understanding of our basic biology.

This technology bears watching. From The Grape's vantage point, the amount of good that can arise from this far outweighs the potential misuses of the technology. Until they develop something more than tissue mush, however, I think I'll stick to a nice thick slab of Black Angus on my plate. (Medium rare, please, if you're buying...)


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