How Clean Meat Can Save the World -Part one
What if we could eat meat without killing animals? It may sound like science fiction but it’s now a reality, at least in some parts of the world. A few years ago, Dutch scientists found a way to take animal cells in a lab and turn them into meat patties that look and taste like the real deal.
A new article by Jonathan Anomaly and his colleagues makes the moral case for encouraging people to eat lab grown meat. They call it “clean meat” to avoid the creep factor of talking about meat made in labs. Anomaly is no stranger to adopting new names – he changed his last name to Anomaly when he was a student at Berkeley, never thinking at the time he’d become Professor Anomaly.
Anomaly says a shift toward clean meat can make the world better for animals and people. Intensive animal farming is big business in countries like the USA, China, and India. But keeping animals in cramped conditions creates pain and stress for the animals, and public health risks for people.
On factory farms, antibiotics are used to speed up growth and prevent the spread of diseases. But giving antibiotics to animals can lead to antibiotic resistance for people. Even more alarming, when animals are raised together in close confinement, they are more likely to spread viruses to each other, and to people. The viruses that cause the flu and the common cold came from farm animals.
The public health gains from switching to clean meat seem clear enough. But we contacted Jonathan Anomaly to tell us why we should care about farm animals. In a contemplative mood, Anomaly said “people matter mainly because we can create novel kinds of art and science and architecture. Animals matter for different reasons – because they can experience pain and pleasure, or at least the satisfaction and frustration of their natural instincts.”
Anomaly is an unusual academic. He was a popular professor at Duke University, but ultimately ended up leaving the American academy, citing radical political ideology in American universities. Anomaly thinks biotechnology can help solve social problems, but first, he says, we need to change how we think about our obligations to other animals.
“By changing how we make meat,” Anomaly says, “we can reduce the suffering of animals on factory farms. And we can minimize public health risks to people that come from raising farm animals for human consumption.”
In the last few years, Holland and Israel have opened restaurants that feature lab meat on their menus. And last month, the main health agency in the United States authorized two suppliers to sell clean meat to restaurants around the country. Ready or not, flesh without blood may soon be on your dinner plate!
The paper cited in this article is “Flesh Without Blood: The Public Health Benefits of Lab-Grown Meat,” published on the 1st of September in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.
Part two will be available soon .