Bioprinting, Lab Grown Meat And No Kill Leather

I’ve mentioned the concept of meat being made in laboratories previously – those efforts are still ongoing and should be reality on a commercial scale soon; as may lab leather.

Last month, the Thiel Foundation announced a grant to Modern Meadow, a company developing a fundamentally new approach to meat and leather production based on tissue engineering and “bioprinting”.

Bioprinting builds tissues and organs structures using computer-controlled delivery of cells in three dimensions – rather similar to the “standard” 3D printing technology that is really starting to take off.

Bioprinters are already in operation, mainly in relation to medical research and development. So why not apply the same technology to food and animal-based textiles production? This video explains a little more about bioprinting.

The humble hamburger is an “environmental train wreck” says Modern Meadow’s founder and leather’s environmental impact is also significant; not to mention all the animal welfare issues associated with both.

Like smoking tobacco (which I *finally* kicked recently), eating meat is something my conscience tussles with a lot and while I’ve reduced my meat consumption, I’m not anywhere close to cessation.

Trivia – In the 1930’s Winston Churchill predicted what we are seeing now with in-vitro meat.

“Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”

.. although, he was a little optimistic about the time frame.

Many years ago I worked as a manager of a fast-food chicken chain. I remember receiving a fax from head office warning of a rumor circulating that what we were selling wasn’t chicken, but organisms being grown in laboratories. The company was taking this very seriously as the rumors were damaging the brand.

In the future, this sort of food production *might* be seen as a major plus. Can you imagine what those TV commercials would be like? Actually, it’s a little scary :).

Even PETA, who are particularly ..umm.. thorny when it comes to meat and animal welfare issues, offered a $1 million prize to the first company bringing lab-grown chicken meat to consumers by 2012. It looks like their cash is safe, but the day this happens may not be all that far off.

I still believe I would take a crack at a burger made of lab grown meat and I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with wearing no-kill leather; purely based on the reduction of animal suffering. (That said, not all animals raised for food or leather are necessarily poorly treated).

What about you? Would you eat printed meat and/or wear lab leather?


Mock meat recommendations.