Breeding animals for food and materials has been part of human history for almost as long as human history has been around. Some of this activity involves non-lethal husbandry of animals to obtain things like eggs or wool while other activities, such as for meat, leather, or medicine, require slaughter of the animal.
There are examples of both ancient and modern cultures and communities that eschewed use of animals that require lethal measures and there are certainly many flavors of vegetarianism today (from vegan to conscious carnivore). At the same time there is an ever-increasing demand for things like meat, leather, and medicine that require the killing of animals.
One US company with ties to both the big city (New York) and the farm (Missouri) is working with a diverse team of researchers to offer a thoroughly forward-thinking solution to the dilemma. Modern Meadow develops cultured animal products with no animal slaughter and much lower inputs of land, water, energy and chemicals. It is without doubt, revolutionary biofabrication and tissue engineering.
Cultured meat could be very well be a 'Holy Grail' in the ethics of killing animals for food and materials so we look forward to seeing how Modern Meadow and other technologies progress and evolve. One thing we here at Future-ish that we hope is part of the conversation early on is something we all learned from the Henrietta Lacks story of HeLa cells legacy: it is important - in fact, necessary - to acknowledge and honor the animals, cell-lines, and any other living 'inputs' that go into such technologies and developments. If successful, the cells used in the Modern Meadow cultures could be used for centuries to come so it is important to
- Foster, T. 2013. Can articial meat save the world? Popular Science.
- Greenwald, T. 2013. Modern Meadow Makes Leather and Meat Without Killing Animals. Bloomburg Business.
- Kolodny, L. 2014. Modern Meadow Raises $10M to Grow Leather in Labs, Not from Livestock. Wall Street Journal.
- Moskvitch, K. 2013. Modern Meadow aims to print raw meat using bioprinter. BBC.
- Video | Singularity University. 2013. Modern Meadow - SU Labs Startup Showcase.
- Video | TED. 2013. Andras Forgacs: Leather and meat without killing animals.
- Video | TEDMED. 2011. Part 1. Gabor Forgacs at TEDMED 2011. Part 2. Gabor Forgacs Part II @ TEDMED 2011