Genetically Modify Your Meat

I always figured that the (far) future of meat-eating would be nanotechnology.

Cows are basically made of grass and water, right? I mean, they’re machines in which grass and water go in, and muscle and eyeballs and hair come out. And a blade of grass is a machine in which dirt and water and light go in, and chlorophyll and cells and fiber come out.

So we take a bunch of dirt and water, and rearrange the atoms so that they’re identical with a rare steak: Seared on the outside, juicy and tender in the middle. But without the pathogens, methane production, and general rape of the planet and its species. Easy peasy.

It wouldn’t be warm without more technology. Maybe we’d make a raw steak and cook it. Whatever; you get the point.

Until we figure out how to do that, there does seem to be one way to cheaply make meat production SLIGHTLY less ugly. In this month’s Knowledge magazine, Adam Shriver talks about it.

He says that it’s easy to genetically modify animals so that they don’t experience pain as something really bad. They feel it, but it’s not horrible (we get this feedback from humans who have the same condition). If we raised these animals, they’d live a much happier life on the way to our stomachs. It would end needless suffering.

Of course, the more intelligent an animal is (like a pig), the more the pain is psychic rather than physical. Anxiety, fear, and even sadness are all part of the miserable life of mass-produced meat animals. It’s not as clear how to take that out of the equation, but if we did, it’d be a lot better.

Anyone who remembers Douglas Adams’ restaurant at the end of the universe knows that this isn’t a new idea. But maybe it could come sooner than we’d thought.

One Response to Genetically Modify Your Meat

  1. BruceS March 17, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    OK, nobody’s said it yet, and I’ve been itching to: you could start a whole new SPAM movement with this title. There, I said it.

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