Get ready for fake pork

December 3, 2009
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By now, you may have seen the news about a team of scientists accomplishing the groundbreaking feat of growing meat in a laboratory. The Times of London reported that the Dutch scientists, using cells from a live pig, stewed up something in a petri dish resembling muscle. Read the story here.

It doesn’t look so good, and no one has tasted it. Technically, though, it’s pork.

For the sake of argument, let’s look ahead several years and anticipate researchers’ refining the discovery, leading to most pork being grown in laboratories and not on farms. That has huge implications for Indiana, the No. 5 hog state.

All those pigs—8 million of them sold a year—consume about 10 percent of the corn and 8 percent of the soybeans grown on Indiana soil, estimates Purdue University ag economist Chris Hurt.

In other words, farmers would need to find new uses for the nearly 1 million acres now devoted to feeding pigs. And we haven’t even discussed beef and poultry.

Hurt thinks consumers would be slow to accept the idea of artificial pork. After all, he emphasizes, researchers have a long way to go to make it palatable.

The barn door nonetheless has been thrown open.

How do you feel about meat grown in labs? If it looks and tastes the same as the traditional thing, would you have any objection to consuming it?

What about the farm ground? How would it likely be reallocated? To biofuels, perhaps?

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  • Vegetarians
    The real question is with no moral leg to stand on...will all the vegetarians bite in to some tasty BACON?!
  • Scifi to reality?
    I don't know if I originally saw something like this on Discovery, WFYI, or some scifi like show (ie: Resident Evil like show), but I think that the experiment only worked (and tasted well) when the scientists treated the lab-created meat like a real animal. Something about interacting with the meat (like you would the real animal) released some type of chemical within the meat to make it taste like it did.

    I for one would like to see this happen, but only if it is not socially sterile environment. I just hope that it will taste well and we won't have any complications from eating this over real meat.

    @IndyRich, I doubt that all vegetarians would eat it, even though it will be lab engineered meat, some people will still be vegetarians for one reason or another (for example: dietary reasons). There will also probably be a new classification of vegetarians if we switch to complete lab-created meat and stop harvesting real animals.
  • environmental benefits vs. nutrition drawbacks?
    Many agree that the agriculture/livestuck industry pose threats to our environment. While I am certainly not an expert on the topic, i do know that air emissions, soil degeneration, and water contamination are among the effects of raising mass amounts of livestock (including pigs) for the purpose of mass-consumption. The existence of lab-engineered meat could significantly reduce this burden.

    Yet, lab meat doesn't "sit well" with me. Will it have the same nutritional content? What will the short and long term effects be of the chemicals used to create the meat? I know that pork is not the most nutritious dietary options, but is it better than fake food?

  • environmental benefits vs. nutrition drawbacks?
    Many agree that the agriculture/livestuck industry pose threats to our environment. While I am certainly not an expert on the topic, i do know that air emissions, soil degeneration, and water contamination are among the effects of raising mass amounts of livestock (including pigs) for the purpose of mass-consumption. The existence of lab-engineered meat could significantly reduce this burden.

    Yet, lab meat doesn't "sit well" with me. Will it have the same nutritional content? What will the short and long term effects be of the chemicals used to create the meat? I know that pork is not the most nutritious dietary options, but is it better than fake food?

  • Farming...
    What no-one's considered -
    that lab-/vat-grown meat still needs input nutrients... corn, soybeans...
    so I suspect that the vast majority of tthat farmland will remain in crops for quite some time... if it doesn't get buried under a glacier, that is.
  • It's People!
    Soylent Green! Look, doesn't anyone think messing with mother nature (e.g., seedless watermelons, growth hormone, lab grown livestock, etc) will catch up with us at some point? It's funny, but now a days I'll bet a lot of corn-fed beef eaters wouldn't like the taste of free-range beef because of it's distinctly "gamier" taste. I am reminded of those nostalgic saturday morning cartoon jingles "You are what You eat." Is that still relevant?

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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