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THE ‘UPSIDE’: Why lab-grown meat is far better than factory farmed meat

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Many of the critiques of cell-cultured meat, are weak, illogical or just naive. But since it may become nutritionally superior to meat from slaughtered animals, save billions of animals from suffering and improve public health, it’s well worth a shot.

BRIAN KATEMAN: The Food and Drug Administration completed its first premarket assessment of Upside Foods, which grows meat from cells rather than slaughtered animals. It concluded that it had “no further questions” about the safety of how the company produces its chicken. Although Upside Foods still requires approvals from the Department of Agriculture before it can sell its chicken products in restaurants and supermarkets, it’s a monumental leap forward in creating a more ethical and healthy form of meat.

Not everyone, of course, is cheering for chickenless chicken. Cell-cultured meat has been the subject of suspicion from organizations working to protect human health, and even with the FDA’s preliminary approval, some remain unconvinced. For example, the Center for Food Safety called the FDA’s assessment “grossly inadequate” in a news release and called for “more research and more transparent data” before determining whether cell-cultured meat is safe for human consumption.

And some members of the general public, too, are squeamish about cell-cultured meat. Public opinion surveys have found that consumers, especially older and less educated shoppers, hesitate to accept cell-cultured meat as a viable food option.

Caution isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but these critiques of cell-cultured meat are just thinly disguised neophobia — people just feel it is “unnatural.” Cell-cultured meat indeed comes from labs, not farms. But what these critics fail to realize is that there’s nothing “natural” about the vast majority of the meat already eaten in the U.S…

It’s hard to argue that there’s anything “natural” about the pharmaceutical-filled, corn-fed, genetically manipulated and artificially inseminated animals raised on the average farm today. To no one’s surprise, cell-cultured meat also faces criticism from some animal rights activists, albeit for a very different reason: because cell cultivation requires starter cells taken from actual animals, cell-cultured meat isn’t completely cruelty-free…

But the process that Upside Foods and many of its cohorts in the industry currently use is still vastly kinder to animals than traditional livestock production and slaughter. While FBS is harvested from slaughtered animals, extraction from the muscle or a fertilized egg is analogous to a biopsy — perhaps mildly unpleasant for the animal but hardly comparable to the abuse and mutilation farmed animals experience.

Furthermore, according to the company’s website, its process of establishing a cell line from a biopsy can produce enough meat “for years — if not decades — to come, reducing the need to take additional cell samples from animals”…

Given that there are other public health benefits to ending factory farming, like reducing air and water pollution as well as antibiotic resistance and zoonotic disease — health advocates should do no harm by supporting cell-cultured meat.

And with time, cell-cultured meat may become nutritionally superior to meat from slaughtered animals anyway… As with any new technology, the trajectory of cell-cultured meat is likely to face a number of obstacles. But at the end of the day, many of the critiques are weak, illogical or just naive. No, cell-cultured meat, as we currently know it, isn’t perfect. But since it could save billions of animals from suffering and even improve public health, it’s well worth a shot. SOURCE…

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