Posted BY: John F. Di Leo

The Food and Drug Administration has happily approved Upside Foods’s sale of lab-grown meat for human consumption, simultaneously announcing their openness to other companies with similar approaches to meat production.

Researchers have been working on cloning organs in the lab for years, allegedly always for honorable medical purposes.  Now they want to take cells from biopsies of farm animals, and grow synthetic meat from them in a sterile laboratory, to sell for food.

There was a time when every biomolecular engineer had to take an ethics class.  Perhaps they still do, but perhaps more students disregard such lessons nowadays, as so many disregard so many other important lessons of history and philosophy in the interest of modernity.

The scientist asks “Can we?”  The philosopher asks “Should we?” 

But in addition to these big questions, in this case, there’s a more fundamental one, which everyone should be asking. 

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“Why on earth would we want to?”

If America were running out of farmland, we might have a desperate need to find new ways to raise food.  But we have so much available farmland, the government pays farmers not to plant. The world has plenty of hungry people, not because we can’t raise enough meat, but because we can’t transport it all to those who want it.  So a shortage of productive land can’t be it.

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