“People are surprised to learn that PETA is interested in lab-grown meat, but we have overcome our own revulsion at flesh-eating to champion a breakthrough that will mean a far kinder world for animals. One million dollars is a lot of money, but it’s a small price to pay for something that has the potential to save about 1 million lives every hour.”
Using stem cells, scientists are attempting to produce commercial quantities of “cultured” meat, thus replacing the world’s reliance on farmed animals. Any scientist that can produce artificial meat undistinguishable from “real chicken” by the June 30 2012 deadline will receive the $1 million dollars.
It has proven a difficult circle to square to date, though the potential is enormous (providing that is, people are willing to eat it) with the stem cells from one animal potentially producing enough meat to feed a whole country; reducing world hunger, accommodating what is expected to be the doubling in meat consumption from 2000 to 2050, reducing the space and energy requirement for farmed animals by over 95% etc… the need is clearly there.
Every year more than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs and cows are killed…. In the US alone. In vitro meat could be huge.
Invite your class to discuss and debate; hypothesize on other uses of stem cell research. How would the world look if this was a successful project? How would it affect human use of the environment, global warming? Destruction of rainforests for grazing land? Challenge them to think of the wider implications. And would they consider eating the food? What issues could they see arising from such engineered meat? How would it sit with GM crops?
Encourage your students to go to the Peta website and read the blog entries, what do they think of the comments raised?