‘No-kill meals’ made from lab-grown meat promise huge environmental and ethical benefits. What are the downsides?

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Credit: Eat Just
Credit: Eat Just

We have pescatarians, vegans, flexitarians, locavores and of course vegetarians. But what’s the word for those of us who make the choice to eat meat not raised on a farm or slaughtered in an abattoir, but grown in a lab? Perhaps the “cytovore”, consumer of cells.

It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not. In Singapore, the US company Eat Just gained approval to sell its nuggets of lab-grown chicken to consumers in December 2020. 

All this represents a significant opportunity. But it also raises concerns about how the industry is likely to develop… If Eat Just or other lab-based meat companies end up providing a significant proportion of our protein, their technologies will become increasingly critical to the world’s food supplies. This means more control over what we eat and what we pay for it.

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In the long run, perhaps the ethical and environmental benefits will outweigh these social costs of lab meat. But now is also the right time to make sure that the industry develops in ways that don’t result in monopoly ownership of the food supply or the flattening of food culture. 

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Related article:  Zoanthropy: The curious case of the woman who believes she is a chicken
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