Scientists around the world are researching or seeking the funds to research ways to produce meat in the laboratory—without killing any animals. In vitro meat production would use animal stem cells that would be placed in a medium to grow and reproduce. The result would mimic flesh and could be cooked and eaten. Some promising steps have been made toward this technology, but we’re still several years away from having in vitro meat be available to the general public.
PETA is now stepping in and offering a $1 million reward to the first scientist to produce and bring to market in vitro meat.
Why is PETA supporting this new technology? More than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs, and cows are killed every year for food in the United States in horrific ways. Chickens are drugged to grow so large they often become crippled, mother pigs are confined to metal cages so small they can’t move, and fish are hacked apart while still conscious—all to feed America’s meat addiction. In vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering. In addition, in vitro meat would dramatically reduce the devastating effects the meat industry has on the environment.
Of course, humans don’t need to eat meat at all—vegetarians are less likely to get heart disease, diabetes, or various types of cancer or become obese than meat-eaters are—and a terrific array of vegetarian mock meats already exist. But as many people continue to refuse to kick their meat addictions, PETA is willing to help them gain access to flesh that doesn’t cause suffering and death.
PETA is offering a $1 million prize to the contest participant able to make the first in vitro chicken meat and sell it to the public by June 30, 2012. The contestant must do both of the following:
• Produce an in vitro chicken-meat product that has a taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken flesh to non-meat-eaters and meat-eaters alike.
• Manufacture the approved product in large enough quantities to be sold commercially, and successfully sell it at a competitive price in at least 10 states.
Judging of taste and texture will be performed by a panel of 10 PETA judges, who will sample the in vitro chicken prepared using a fried “chicken” recipe from VegCooking.com. The in vitro chicken must get a score of at least 80 when evaluated in order to win the prize.