If the heartbreaking pictures of animals suffering on factory farms and in slaughterhouses bring you down (and if they don't, you need to worry), you'll be pleased to learn that scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina are developing a way to give die-hard carnivores an animal-friendly meat fix. With the help of a grant from PETA, the scientists are working on growing "cultured" meat in their laboratory, relying on techniques similar to those they are using in their research on growing human organs for transplant patients.
The list of benefits of bioengineered in vitro meat goes on and on. It is far less likely to be contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter, which are widespread on factory farms. Scientists can control how much fat is added to the meat, which could help people lower their risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. The production of cultured meat wouldn't generate the tons of animal waste that factory farms do or contribute to climate change and massive water and air pollution. And, of course, if cultured meat became widely available, millions of animals every year would be spared from being scalded, skinned, or hacked apart or having their throats cut open while they are still conscious and struggling.
Meat produced safely in a clean, controlled environment could someday make dead animal flesh look about as progressive as The Flintstones.
Written by Michelle Sherrow