The corporate race for cultured protein rests on a view of human beings as greedy and incapable of change
The stuff of science fiction has landed on our plates. Meat grown in a lab, instead of inside the body of an animal, has been approved for sale for the first time. The Singapore Food Agency has given regulatory approval to Eat Just’s “chicken bites”, grown from the cells of a chicken that’s still flapping its wings. The US startup took a biopsy of cells from a live chicken, bathed them in a nutrient medium and grew them in a bioreactor, where they grew exponentially until the meat was harvested, encased in batter and turned into nuggets. The ruling means that, for the first time, cultured meat can be sold to the public.
Eat Just, Inc – and the dozens of other cultured meat startups racing each other to get lab-grown meat on to the menu across the globe – are selling the promise that carnivores will be able to eat meat with a clean conscience. Flesh without the blood, meat without murder and the beginning of the end of the environmental damage caused by intensive animal agriculture. The news was met with a sigh of relief from meat eaters across the world, and with good reason: it will allow us to carry on as before, eating what we like while clever technology sidesteps the problems caused by our appetites.