Somebody call Peter Singer! The development and ethics of meat in a tube

Jun 14, 2011

Before the discovery of mice stem cells in 1981, the idea of meat that could be grown in a laboratory seemed outlandish to the greater scientific community, and to others, downright crazy. But in recent years, researchers have made major breakthroughs, managing to grow bovine muscle tissue from just a couple of cells in a nutrient mixture. An interesting coalition of proponents—ranging from stem cell researchers, to environmentalists, to animal rights supporters—has emerged, citing greater medical understanding, the reduction of greenhouse gases, and the absence of animal abuse as reasons to welcome the mass-produced meat that could someday appear in our grocery stores. Along with them, however, have come serious ethical questions that do not yet have concrete answers. What does it mean to be “alive”? And can we really call the product of a test-tube “beef”? Somebody call Peter Singer!

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