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October 3, 2018
It's not fake meat at all.
These miraculous "lab-grown meat products" that will someday conquer the meats markets and save all the abused livestock actually are grown from the blood of cattle fetuses.
That's right. Look it up. The base cell culturing media for all fake meat appears to be fetal bovine serum (FBS), harvested from bovine fetal blood, which is collected from unborn fetuses in cows being killed in slaughter plants.
Ain't it rich?
In fact, FBS is a major component of many products in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries. Further, this is a growing market with skyrocketing demand, according to a major peddler of FBS. The demand for "murdered" and "suffering" dead fetuses from cows tormented with the same fate is actually growing. I love this! It's a double kick in the shin to all the leftist, anti-agriculture publications that have been pushing this propaganda for several months now.
In all my research on the topic, every single fake meat peddler who admits anything about the rather secretive process says FBS is the base culturing medium.
Here's a good description from Slate magazine that references fake meat and other products and problems that could result: "The use of the serum is extensive, with FBS being cited in more than 10,000 research papers, far more than other cow blood products. These papers cover a lot of research topics. FBS has been used in the development of vaccines for many types of cancer, influenza, HIV, and hepatitis, as well as to help understand the development of brain and muscle tissues. Still, there is a movement to reduce its role in vaccine development, partly for ethical reasons, but also because it’s a public health concern. Vaccines created with FBS can transmit mad cow disease, and although transmission is extremely unlikely, your chances being about 1 in 40 billion, the Food and Drug Administration has strongly discouraged its use for the past 25 years."
Of course, they're going to move away from cow fetus blood at some point, they say. There are other potential options, they say. They will use vegetable matter as the base someday, they say.
I call bullstuff on all that. Even if those things were possible, more huge problems abound. As Charlie Kraus, a really sharp beef producer and farmer from near Hays, Kansas, wrote to me in a series of emails we traded, "Lab-grown meat cannot be produced except by literally bathing it in hormones and antibiotics. Muscle tissue in a petri dish has no immune system to protect it from infection. Muscle tissue in a petri dish has no pituitary gland to produce hormones to make it grow."
He's right. Neither Kraus nor I could find much on the process, likely because it is essentially an industrial secret, but the purveyors of fake meat that tip their hats even slightly admit they have struggles with cleanliness and they must use antibiotics. This article in The Atlantic addresses some of those issues. Neither Kraus nor I could find reference to the hormones they surely must use to make the culture grow, but as Kraus mentions, how else could it be done?
To put the icing on this bloody mess of a cake, I have one more major point of contention about fake meat. We all know you are what you eat. So are animals. I wrote about this in June in an analytic piece titled Good soils build better beef, better food. Therefore, it is worse than laughable the fake-meat pushers are planning to sell this pathetic product to a generation (the millennials) that values food origins and food safety and food quality above all else.
We in the beef industry in particular need to explain these facts often, and to anyone who will listen. We also need to brag about our use of green pasture and fresh air and existing pond and stream water, and we need to have our houses in order for stockmanship and soil health.
Fake meat is an abomination. If ever there was a "frankenfood," this is it.
Editor, Beef Producer
Alan Newport is editor of Beef Producer, a national magazine with editorial content specifically targeted at beef production for Farm Progress’s 17 state and regional farm publications. Beef Producer appears as an insert in these magazines for readers with 50 head or more of beef cattle. Newport lives in north-central Oklahoma and travels the U.S. to meet producers and to chase down the latest and best information about the beef industry.
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