Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Questions America Wants Answered: "Is it Ethical to Eat Faux Meat? "

From Big Think:
Would you eat a thick, juicy steak? What if it were grown in a lab and printed using new 3D printing techniques originally developed to grow regenerative tissue for medical purposes? Thanks to new technologies already on the horizon, it will soon be able to produce protein-rich steak in miniature cubes, each of them half-a-millimeter thick, using a 3D bio-printer. The always-controversial Peter Thiel – who famously offered to pay college-age kids $100,000 each if they didn’t go to college and instead become an entrepreneur – is once again stirring up the waters, this time with a grant from his Breakout Labs of more than $200,000 to a Missouri company, Modern Meadow, that makes faux meat from real animal cells. How we as a society answer the question of faux meat has a lot to tell us about the way we will answer other ethical questions raised by imminent technological progress.

At first glance, the concept of faux meat would seem to demolish the standard argument of ethical vegetarians and anyone else who refuses to eat animals on ethical grounds. The standard Pete Singer "Animal Liberation" argument that humans ought to choose survival options that do not cause unnecessary harm to animals also goes out the window. After all, these new 3D printers will essentially build up printed items, layer by layer, using animal cells that have been grown in a lab. Eating faux meat, then, does not kill or involve any harm or cruelty to sentient beings. No more worrying about whether or not your cow has been grass-fed if your cow has been grown in a lab....MORE