A couple of years back, scientist started to experiment with the idea of creating artificial meat, as well as other types of foods, in a lab. What seemed like a distant futuristic dream, is now a reality.
Such a invention could potentially be useful in the fight against hunger and possibly the vast amount of pollution from the traditional meat industry as well. It has also other perks such as needing no antibiotics as the lab grown meat is already in a highly controlled environment.
There is already plant based meat replacement products out there, but from my experience they are far off. Sure, they are often rather healthy compared to the product they are trying to imitate like for example sausages made out of soya, but they never really convinced me. The dream for me has always to taste food grown in a lab, ever since I was a kid. It might sound weird, but to me as a science fiction obsessed person it is on my bucket list. Luckily this day has come, or it is at least right around the corner.
In 2013, the milestone of eating a lab grown burger was finally reached. Mark Post, a researcher at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, created artificial cow meat from a cell culture of myosatellite cells from the neck of a cow. This resulted 20,000 strips of muscle tissue, and a hefty price tag of 325,000 USD. In other words, not your usual one dollar burger. The price of the burger has since dropped and is now estimated that it would cost around 11 USD. Although the taste is not quite the same, and the time it takes to produce is probably makes it not categorised as “fast food”, it is a big step in the right direction.
Meat is not the only thing that is getting an overhaul the next couple of years, rice is also in the game. A new type of rice, called colloquially “Golden Rice”, is engineered with specific genes to increase the contents of retinol aka. Vitamin A. Deficiencies in retinol may give many health problems, some of them being blindness.
Since rice is rather cheap to grow, many countries in the developing world depends on this crop to survive. This makes scientific innovation with said produce very important in the coming years. As the population is rising fast, solving world hunger becomes harder everyday. Small changes to crops through genetic engineering might help in such cases. There is of course several problems with this already, as usual when it comes to genetic engineering, groups like “Green Peace” is a strong opponent to such advancements in agriculture. In 2013, a group of destructive activists, identified as members of Anakpawis Partylist and MASIPAG, attacked crops in the Philippines due to their extreme stance on genetically engineered crops. The field that the group attacked contained crops that was being tested before eventually was going to be available for use by farmers and so fourth. Green Peace was not known to be directly involved in the attack, but they are known to have connections and agreements with MASIPAG.
This is a very typical example when ideologies comes before science. Not only is genetically engineered crops determined as safe by the scientific community, but it is also beneficial on so many levels. Going against such a scientific advancement for ones own beliefs and ideological views is not only irrational, but it could also be identified as egoistic. The Golden Rice crop could save quite a few lives and eyesights around the world.
When groups like MASIPAG commit crimes like this, it is not only vandalism towards the owner of such crops, but I would identify it as terrorism. Restricting potential nutritional supply for millions of starving humans saddens many. It is already crossed the borderline of egoistic a long time ago and it is not long before it may be considered evil as well.
So what can we do about this? Most of us are not scientist in the field of agriculture, so engineering crops ourselves might prove to be rather impossible. The single most important thing we can do is raise awareness. Informing the public that such advancements is not only possible, it is real and available today, is crux for ensuring that world hung may end before it is too late.
This is only the beginning of the new advancements we may have in the coming years. The essential thing is that we are open to change and scientific advancements.