Saturday, April 19, 2008

Semi-Living Meat

I'm still wondering ... is cultured meat living?

A group of artists from the Tissue Culture and Art Project (TCA) in Australia grew this steak for their exhibition "Disembodied Cuisine".

Click to read captions, and to see some cultured meat up close.

The exhibition explored human response to cultured meat:
"This piece deals with one of the most common zones of interaction between humans and other living systems and will probe the apparent uneasiness people feel when someone ‘messes’ with their food. Here the relationships with the Semi-Living are that of consumption and exploitation. However, it is important to note that it is about “victimless” meat consumption. As the cells from the biopsy proliferate the ‘steak’ in vitro continues to grow and expand, while the source, the animal from which the cells were taken, is healing."

"Potentially this work presents a future in which there will be meat (or protein rich food) for vegetarians and the killing and suffering of animals destined for food consumption will be reduced. Furthermore, ecological and economical problems associated with the food industry (hence, growing grains to feed the animals and keeping them in basic conditions) can be reduced dramatically."
They ask:
"However, by making our food a new class of object/being – a Semi-Living – we are risking of making the Semi-Living the new class for exploitation?"
- Semi-Living Food: “Disembodied Cuisine”
Below, the steaks cooking (that's one tiny sauté pan), and dinner.

I found the artists' project from this Wired article, April 11, 2008:
Scientists Flesh Out Plans to Grow (and Sell) Test Tube Meat

In it, Jason Matheny, a researcher at Johns Hopkins and co-founder of New Harvest said:
"The general consensus is that minced meat or ground meat products - sausage, chicken nuggets, hamburgers - those are within technical reach. We have the technology to make those things at scale with existing technology."
Bob Dennis, a biomedical engineer at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina added:
"At scale, in this case, would be thousands of tons per year."
All photos from the Tissue Culture and Art Project (TCA).

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