Wednesday, 25 May 2011

how will we feed protein to our dogs in the future?

Twice this week I've heard about 'test-tube meat' but I can't recall which radio program said that in the Netherlands they've grown pork in a test-tube. I found an old link here. However, I think on the program this week the speaker said that one problem with the experiment is that the cells, as they grow, start to differentiate, to specialise, so that the product is not just muscle meat. (I'm not sure about that, though.)

It is the second mention of the topic, though, that has me writing this post. One of the most informative bloggers around is the US vet, Dr. Patty Khuly, who has written a discussion of the ways in which we might find protein to feed our pets in the future. She looks at the possibility of feeding our animals laboratory-raised meat, or insects, in part referring to a story on npr about in vitro meat.

I think the idea of lab-raised meat is somewhat repulsive, but not half as much as I find it repulsive to think of the cruel way in which we humans treat animals as 'things' and raise them in ghastly factory-farms. If we could create artificial meat in a petri-dish (a GIANT one, lol), perhaps it would be the end of our cruelty to food-animals.

But might it also be the end of those species? Would creatures like cows, chickens or geese, for instance, survive into the future if we stopped farming them? Perhaps it would be another one of those mass extinctions that have dotted history.

If our dogs ate insects or artificial meat, I wonder how they would get the calcium they need? I like feeding Penny meaty bones on occasion, not just to clean her teeth, but to add calcium to her diet. (I'm not very well-informed about all this, so maybe I've got it wrong.)

It's an interesting topic, at any rate. And I think it's a conversation we'll be having over the next decade or so, because it's obvious there just isn't going to be enough protein to feed humanity in the near future, let alone other species.


Mary said...

This discussion reminds me of many science fiction stories I read years ago, mostly set in spaceships where the meat was grown for the travellers who might live their whole lives in space and never set foot on a planet. Not sure of the relevance of this comment, it just reminded me.

parlance said...

Well, thank goodness you weren't reminded of Soylent Green.

Teal'c said...

Hmmm - sounds like an interesting concept... And at the end of the day I think we are heading towards all those science fiction "end of the world" movies anyway so why not start with the food. :) Most of our veggies are genetically modified anyway so why not grow the meat artificially and safe lots of animals from suffering...
But until then Teal'c stays the only organic! (spoiled dog) meat eater in the family :)

Cheers Tealc's mum

parlance said...

Oh, Teal'c's Mum, did you see the terrible, terrible Four Corners show last night about the suffering of the cattle who are exported live from Australia to Indonesia? So sad!