Cultured Food is No Panacea

(Published Montreal Gazette, 22 March 2016)

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mmmmmm…cultured meat….

Re; “Cultured meat, milk and eggs may be the food of the future” (FP Montreal, March 11)

In a world where everything is becoming increasingly streamlined, it can be easy to overlook the consequences of animal-less meat and dairy.

While I agree that switching to cultured meat, milk and eggs will reduce immediate human impacts on the environment (such as the large-scale decimation of the world’s rainforests to make way for animal feed), the socio-cultural shift may end up creating an increased pressure on our already limited resources.

As cultured foods begin to take over, those living in rural farming communities will begin a mass urban migration into the cities, creating a large number of consumers with low productivity.

Furthermore, how does the industry expect to change the minds of those living in regions of the world where farming is ingrained as not only a profession, but a source of national identity?

Until these issues are ironed out, I believe that a timeline of 5 years is grossly optimistic, if not delusional.

While cultured meat may not be readily available anytime soon, perhaps it is our cultural norms that need to be mended. How is it that the only way humankind can remove the suffering of farm animals across the globe is to synthesize designer-produce that are more akin to medicines than they are to food. Instead of pouring endless amounts of money into convincing people that test-tube beef is the same as a steak, I believe the money would be better served teaching the younger generation to respect the natural world around us.