Viewpoint: It’s time to expand the definition of ‘meat’ to include lab-grown beef

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It’s no secret by now that the case against meat keeps getting stronger. The social, environmental and ethical costs of industrial agriculture — exacerbated by a pandemic being traced back to a live animal market, and a vulnerable meat processing industry — have become too obvious and damaging to ignore.

Yet Americans on average consume more that 200 pounds of animal flesh each year. And, like it or not, it is still part of how the United States sees itself — cultural icons, from cowboys and ranchers to the Golden Arches, express the country’s long, tragic love affair with meat.

For centuries, the definition of meat was obvious: the edible flesh of an animal. That changed in 2013, when the Dutch scientist Mark Post unveiled the first in vitro hamburger …. Although Dr. Post estimated that the first in vitro burger cost about $325,000 to create, the price has come down significantly and his team is one of several groups seeking to commercialize in vitro meat and bring it to market.

Related article:  Skepticism of GMOs, CRISPR won't slow crop biotech innovation, biologist predicts

The debates now going on in many different state legislatures and courthouses all revolve around this question: What is meat? The best answer, in my view, is one that takes the arrival of in vitro flesh as occasion to reconceive and broaden our idea of meat.

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