Eat More Test-Tube Burgers

To the Editor,

If President-elect Joe Biden is serious about addressing climate change, he should support federal funding for cultured-meat research. For those who don’t know, cultured meat is grown from cells, without slaughtering our fellow creatures. It will dramatically reduce the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture.

Cultured meat requires a fraction of the land, freshwater, and greenhouse-gas emissions that slaughtered flesh does. As Henning Steinfeld of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

The truth is animal agriculture is a leading—if not the leading—cause of global warming. The incoming Biden administration should support development of cultured meat through funding for open-source research. This revolutionary protein will significantly benefit the environment, as well as animal welfare and human health.

Jon Hochschartner

Granby, Conn.


Thank you—sincerely—for continuing to provoke us with a steady stream of letters supporting cultured-meat research.

For the benefit of our readers, we’ll note that you are the author of two biographies: Ingrid Newkirk: A Biography of PETA’s Founder; and Freedom Fighter: A Biography of Ronnie Lee, Founder of the Animal Liberation Front, as well as Puppy Killer, Leave Town: A History of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, a history of “an international, grassroots campaign dedicated to bankrupting a notorious vivisection firm.”

We provide this background to give our readers some sense of your likely intent and sincerity. It seems to us your primary goal is to reduce the suffering of animals, and also to reduce the environmental harm done by factory farms and meat-processing.

Fair enough; for all we knew you might have been some Republican trying to promote a company in which you had a stake.

There does seem to be something about lab-grown meat that generates…weirdness.

Last month the New York Post ran a story under the headline, “Makers of grow-your-own human steaks say meal kit is not ‘technically’ cannibalism.”

“The saying ‘You are what you eat’ may soon become a lot more literal.

“A ‘DIY meal kit’ for growing steaks made from human cells was recently nominated for ‘design of the year’ by the London-based Design Museum.

“Named the Ouroboros Steak after the circular symbol of a snake eating itself tail-first, the hypothetical kit would come with everything one needs to use their own cells to grow miniature human meat steaks.

“‘People think that eating oneself is cannibalism, which technically this is not,’ Grace Knight, one of the designers, told Dezeen magazine.

“Before you go running for your wallet, know this isn’t a product available to buy. It was created by scientist Andrew Pelling, artist Orkan Telhan and Knight, an industrial designer, on commission by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an exhibit last year.’”

Having cleared that up, we’ll add this: NPR reported recently that incorporating a small amount of red Australian seaweed into cattle feed reduces the volume of methane emissions from cows by some huge amount.

The Editor

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