The notion that tissue cultures could be developed into veritable animal flesh without the necessity of raising and slaughtering living creatures has been in circulation among tech enthusiasts for several years. With current off-the-shelf biotechnology, it should be possible to grow edible meat in laboratory vats, starting from a single cell.
Recently, this idea got a boost from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The animal rights group is offering a $1 million prize for “the first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012.” The challenge has been controversial among PETA supporters because… well… like, I mean… yuck!
More-reasonable commentators may note that any person or organization that can make commercially viable fake meat in sufficient quantity to have an effect on animal suffering won’t need PETA’s money. Still, you never know. The competition could supply motive simply by calling more attention to the possibilities. Guilt-free meat eating — a yummy idea.