Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Purdue University / Education & Workforce Development / Real Estate & Retail

Get ready for fake pork

December 3, 2009

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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