Food production clip from Samsara.
Quite literally architecture/design of doom.
Food production clip from Samsara.
Quite literally architecture/design of doom.
Dish of the day: breeding and mutating food species may be the only convincing plan anyone has for feeding the world Photograph: Victor de Schwanberg/Science Photo Library
Could ethical concerns ultimately drive public acceptance of the new food technology? Cor van der Weele, Professor of Humanistic Philosophy at Wageningen University, is convinced that’s the case, with artificial meat at least. “People will see the moral benefits of cultured meats. Taking stem cells from a pig rather than killing millions of pigs in factories is already a more attractive idea to consumers.” She quotes studies of the viability of growing meat in sunlight-fuelled “bio-reactors” placed in desert areas: the reduction in resources is staggering. “It would require 1% of the land and just 2% of the water that traditional meat production does. And it would involve a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases,” she says.
Eating real meat in 2035 could be as morally questionable as eating foie gras – and about as expensive. As Dr Mark Post says: “A meat-eater with a bicycle is much more environmentally unfriendly than a vegetarian with a Hummer.”
Sign me up.
I’ve covered this-ish a few times before. The most popular posts were the brainless chickens art project, and the (very real) food printing research being conducted at Cornell University in upstate NY. And you can see all my posts on printed food, here.
OK, so, yes thanks much for the article - “Steak of the Art: The Fatal Flaws of In Vitro Meat.” The author, Christina Agapakis, is an artist with a PhD in biology. She has no business experience and most of her life was spent in school. Here’s her CV.
Her background matters because her article “Steak of the Art” speculates about the production problems of bringing printed meat to the market. She explains that the engineering processes are expensive, that the volume of genetic material needed is huge, and, inexplicably / incongruously swerves to discuss feeding cattle algae.
Her point is that lab-grown meat production could never be made efficient enough to compete with cattle meat. To support this, she points to the cost of the first batch of In Vitro meat, which was about $330,000 USD. Then she speculates that this is a lot of money. I would love to ask her her thoughts on how much she thinks running a 1,000 head ranch costs - not only in terms of owning and managing the property and animals proper, but the costs to the environment, governments, and human health as well.
She’s a smart scientist, but she has no business sense. Marketing a new product such as this would cost millions.
And guess what? Modern Meadow was given a $300,000 grant to start-up a business to sell printed meat - a much more efficient process than In Vitro. Far, far less than Dr. Agapakis uninformed guess.
I don’t have a problem with lab-grown meat. I’m just not falling for the hype. I’m sure glad people are talking about it. And I would love love love to read the ethical arguments for and against eating this stuff.
As for market viability? I have experience with managing budgets, running businesses, and analyzing environmental policy: there’s no way that a bio-meat would or could displace beef. The backlash from the ag-lobby would astonish even the most hardened politician. Not to mention the hokey ‘nostalgia’ people have for cows, cattle ranching, cowboys, and farmers. Impossible to displace these powerful, established, and frankly fine forces.
It’ll just be a niche product - probably for the ultra-ethical and adventurous types. So, don’t fall for the hype!
I’d try it. Printed meat opens an interesting debate, testing environmentalists’ ethical arguments against eating beef. We know that on the whole raising cattle is environmentally terrible, painful for the animals, and expensive. Could distaste (eg, the “ew-ick” factor) for bio-beef turn into a viable solution? After all, it’s safe, tasty, equally nutritious, would save millions of acres of land, substantially lower carbon footprint, and raise water quality. It also nearly eliminates swine flu, Mad Cow, avian flu, tuberculosis, brucellosis, and other animal-to-human plagues. (I’d argue further that it would relieve ranchers the pain of losing a few head to wolves.)
Bio-beef would resolve countless issues, but the ick factor seems to overwhelm the arguments for it. Thus, testing the boundaries and worth of environmental ethics…
Vat-Meat Approaching the Mainstream: Peter Thiel Seeds Modern Meadow
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel’s philanthropic foundation plans to announce today a six-figure grant for bioprinted meat, part of an ambitious plan to bring to the world’s dinner tables a set of technologies originally developed for creating medical-grade tissues.
The recipient of the Thiel Foundation’s grant, a Columbia, Mo.-based startup named Modern Meadow, is pitching bioprinted meat as a more environmentally-friendly way to satisfy a natural human craving for animal protein. Co-founder Andras Forgacs has sharply criticized the overall cost of traditional livestock practices, saying “if you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck.”
Federal law allows the Agriculture Department to buy meat and poultry products to help farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters.
The announcement came as Obama criticized Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for blocking a farm bill that could help farmers cope with the drought. Obama touted his efforts to help farmers as he began a three-day tour of the battleground state he won in 2008.
“That will help ranchers who are going through tough times right now,” Obama said.
Obama said the government would boost its purchases of meat now, while prices are low, and freeze much of it for later use.
The USDA plans to buy up to $100 million of additional pork products, $50 million of chicken, $10 million of lamb and $10 million of catfish. The Defense Department, a large purchaser of beef, pork and lamb, was expected to look for ways to encourage its vendors to speed up purchases of meat.
“The purchases will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA nutrition programs,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
The USDA has spent about $37 million on pork products so far this year. If it spends an additional $100 million, that would be more than twice what the agency spent on pork in 2011.
Obama has pledged a wide-ranging response to the drought. His administration is giving farmers and ranchers access to low-interest emergency loans, opening more federal land for grazing and distributing $30 million to get water to livestock.
Good reporting on government handouts to private businesses via CBS.
For sale: African Lion meat.
Follow Climate Adaptation
A vegetarian lays out the economic realities and environmental impacts of “sustainable” agriculture.
For all the strengths of these alternatives, however, they’re ultimately a poor substitute for industrial production. Although these smaller systems appear to be environmentally sustainable, considerable evidence suggests otherwise.
Grass-grazing cows emit considerably more methane than grain-fed cows. Pastured organic chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming. It requires 2 to 20 acres to raise a cow on grass. If we raised all the cows in the United States on grass (all 100 million of them), cattle would require (using the figure of 10 acres per cow) almost half the country’s land (and this figure excludes space needed for pastured chicken and pigs). A tract of land just larger than France has been carved out of the Brazilian rain forest and turned over to grazing cattle. Nothing about this is sustainable.
The issue is scale - we can’t have 100 million small farms for each household, and industrial agriculture is the only reasonable, viable, and therefore sustainable answer to human food needs. (Pretty please, before you send me angry msgs, I kindly ask you to read FAO’s “Ethical Issues in Food” and UM’s “Ethical Issues in Farming“(PDF). At least skim them, and think in terms of “scale.” Arguments for ethical treatment of ag animals are great. But the case for ethical treatment is not strong enough to eliminate the need for industrial scale farming).
“Farming the Unconscious” proposes an alternative way of growing chickens for food: embedding them into a matrix. Free from cruelty, the chickens are unconscious, and free of pain and disease. They are well fed, healthy, and stress free because they are kept out of cages (and not awake) thus responding to ethical arguments against factory farming.
As long as their brain stem is intact, the homeostatic functions of the chicken will continue to operate. By removing the cerebral cortex of the chicken, its sensory perceptions are removed.
It can be produced in a denser condition while remaining alive, and oblivious.The feet will also be removed so the body of the chicken can be packed together in a dense volume.
Food, water and air are delivered via an arterial network and excreta is removed in the same manner. Around 1000 chickens will be packed into each ‘leaf’, which forms part of a moving, productive system.
The model shows that the chickens take up less space than traditional factory farming. The chickens are “plugged in” to the system, there by eliminating the need for clean up of waste.
The model in the exhibition showed the system in which a chicken would be grown at The Centre for Unconscious Farming. Feed lines provide sustenance, excreata lines remove waste, electrodes stimulate muscle growth.
The proposal is by architecture student, André Ford, who looked at eliminated not only the problem of intense agricultural farming techniques, but also looked at eliminating cruelty:
One of the students of the course, André Ford, looked at the intensification of the broiler chicken industry. Each year, the UK raises and kills 800 million chickens or ‘broilers’ for their meat. Broiler rearing might be unethical and unsustainable but it is now the most intensified and automated type of livestock production.
Broiler chickens spend their 6-7week lives in windowless sheds, each containing around 40,000 birds. They are selectively bred to grow faster than they would naturally which often causes skeletal problems and lameness.
Read the rest at Make Money Not Art
Dining Alaskan native style. A brilliant article on food, family, and infections in the Arctic - definitely Not for the weak.
I’ve tried horse once - pretty tasty. But, I think they’re better as pets…
“In a bipartisan effort, the House of Representatives and the United States Senate approved the Conference Committee report on spending bill H2112, which among other things, funds the United States Department of Agriculture. On November 18th, as the country was celebrating Thanksgiving, President Obama signed a law, allowing Americans to kill and eat horses. Essentially, one turkey was pardoned in the presence of worldwide media while in the shadows, buried under pages of fiscal regulation, millions of horses were sentenced to death.
Horse slaughter has been prohibited in the United States as funding for inspections of horses in transit and at slaughter houses was non-existent. This worked because the horse meat cannot be sold for human consumption without such inspections. The House version of the bill retained the de-funding language and the Senate version did not. The conference committee charged with reconciling the two opted to not include it. The result is that it is now legal to slaughter horses for humans to eat.
Notwithstanding that 70% of Americans oppose horse slaughter, that President Obama made a campaign promise to permanently ban horse slaughter and exports of horses for human consumption (horses can be sent to Mexico and Canada), that documentation of animal cruelty, slaughterhouse stench, fluid runoff and negative community impact exists, it is taxpayers that will bear the costs!
Wyoming state representative Sue Wallis and her pro-slaughter group estimate that between 120,000 and 200,000 horses will be killed for human consumption per year and that Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Georgia and Missouri, are considering opening slaughter plants.
During these trying times, is the only thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on is that Americans need to eat horses?”