|test tube meat|
Keelan Balderson, Contributing Writer
Although news that scientists are beginning to develop artificial meat might be considered a step in the right direction for animal welfare, the concept is not without potential health and liberty concerns.
Debate aside about whether eating meat is right or wrong, the fact is people do eat a lot of meat, some 275 million tons in 2007 . The problem, however, is people are eating a lot of bad meat…cows raised on unnatural corn, instead of grass; animals locked in dark cages and pumped with steroids, instead of wandering around in the grass or mud; cloned animals instead of nature’s natural way. This has produced meat that is considerably higher in fat, considerably lower in nutrition, and an attitude considerably lacking in empathy.
A factory-farmed chicken in 2004 for example, contained more than twice as much fat as free range chicken in 1940 . Farming has degenerated, not improved. On top of this we also have a food processing culture that takes this tortured sub-par meat and strips it even further of any healthy contents; mixing it with artificial flavors and preservatives, packing it with salt and sugar, until it’s no longer recognizable as the fresh food our grandparents once ate.
As the disastrous health effects of this frankenfood become more apparent, slowly we’re beginning to see a resurgence of good organic production methods. It’s a renaissance.
Whole Foods is booming in America and moving to the UK. Major supermarkets are being forced to offer organic free-range alternatives. Communities are having grass-fed beef and organic vegetable boxes delivered from local farms. Things are starting to feel natural again, and with innovation of sustainable farming, or, more accurately, fine tuning of farming to the ecosystem, there’s no need to destroy the earth.
Take the Polyface method , where the natural instincts and digestive needs of the animals are combined to create an efficient system where the cows eat the grass, then the chickens are moved in to scratch the dung and peck at the dropped grains and new grass sprouts, then their dung fertilizes the soil, and the pigs plow the soil in to fertile compost. All of it in tune with nature.
Enter lab-grown meat.
At this stage there are two main concerns with the introduction of meat grown in a laboratory. Firstly, for the foreseeable future it’s not likely to ever look, taste or contain the same level of nutrition as a normal joint of grass fed beef for example. It’s not a natural product. This means if it is to be profitable for the corporations, it’s going to have to be artificially enhanced in some way. This would include adding processed garbage like MSG; a neuro-toxin linked to a myriad of health problems .
The BBC reports how the thin strips of white muscle, grown from bovine fetus stem cells, “will be mixed with blood and artificially grown fat to produce a hamburger by the autumn.
Yay, burgers to save the world food problem!
Looking through the eyes of a cynic, it will probably just end up being a nice mush they can sell to McDonald’s, putting real farmers out of business in the process.
While this may reduce the need for innocent cows to live a life of torture, it’s not necessarily going to benefit humanity in any way.
Secondly, the pretexts used to promote this “meat” are still themselves under contention.
Firstly, is the global food crisis. The implication being that we need to grow frankenburgers to feed the world. The trouble with the food crisis term is that it doesn’t really get to the root of the issue. There isn’t a food shortage, or a lack of land to cultivate crops; the issue is that developing countries don’t have food sovereignty…in other words the right to grow and manage their own food.
As explained by Human Rights Organization Africa Action:
What is most appalling is the fact that there is not a food shortage in the world. On the contrary, there was record cereal production in developed countries in 2008, as output was increased by 10%; on the other hand, developing countries barely registered a 1% increase. The prices of fertilizer have doubled and even tripled, making it too expensive for local farmers to grow high-yielding crops. As Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen observed, ‘starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being not enough food.’
The current global food crisis has been variously attributed to natural disasters in major wheat-producing countries, food speculators, low grain reserves, high oil prices, more consumption in developing countries per capita, unfair trade barriers for developing countries, the high price of oil and the diversion of food items (such as corn or other cereals) to agro-fuel production.
While many factors have contributed to the most recent and visible episodes of mass hunger, at a global level, the situation represents a failure of the international economic system to allow Africa countries to achieve food sovereignty. According to the Declaration of the Forum for Food Sovereignty, food sovereignty is the ‘right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.’
Instead of allowing markets and corporations to determine food prices and access, food sovereignty puts local producers, consumers and distributors at the center of food policies and systems. Food sovereignty means that a country’s citizens ensure that they have enough food and surplus to feed their nation based on their own efforts.
Food sovereignty operates under the premise that access to food is a basic human right and that there is no justification to be starving in the world today. Food sovereignty also has positive environmental implications as it steers production from large-scale industrial farming to smaller, more sustainable methods. This approach emphasizes the empowerment of women, local markets and the community.
Corporations control the world food market, causing great inequality; and now the corporations want to come in and offer unnatural solutions that will further benefit the corporations. The likes of Monsanto and Bill Gates are not friends of the Third World; they act as an apologist-facade for the Western elite, and line their own pockets for doing so. If these nations were given food sovereignty they could up their quality of life independently and would reduce their populations naturally. Instead, Bill Gates is ready with his vaccines, and Monsanto are on standby with their GMO seeds.
Gates, who wants to reduce the world’s population because Humans = CO2 , among other reasons, is a large investor in the GMO-producing juggernaut . He claims Monsanto is needed to feed the world’s poor. And while the corporate media present him as some kind of savior, they fail to acknowledge that Monsanto is really a cutthroat monopoly that is patenting nature and actually bankrupting farmers in developing nations – even leading to mass suicide .
“Companies like Monsanto keep arguing that genetic modification will feed the world, but that is specious,” argues Jonathan Kimmelman, a bioethicist at Yale University. “The financial benefits from genetic modification will flow mostly to the very largest agricultural producers, putting local agricultural economies at a tremendous disadvantage. That is really the central issue here.” The poor can feed themselves if given the opportunity, there’s no need for them to be indebted to multi-nationals.
The next pretext is climate change. This new lab-grown meat is being touted as a way to reduce the emissions used to farm traditionally and in modern factory systems. The trouble with this is that AGW is still a contested theory that’s showing itself to be a mechanism for collectivist state and corporate control. In order to save the planet we’re being told to support global carbon taxes — a state of arrested-development in the developing world, who are being pressured into “going green” before industrializing — and the micro-management of our lives.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine a society where we’re forced to consume poor quality lab-grown meat, produced by a Monsanto-like monopoly and backed by loving Liberals like Bill Gates to allegedly reduce CO2 and to feed the poor – both deceptions. In fact an “anonymous and extremely wealthy benefactor who is a household name with a reputation for ‘turning everything into gold’,” is backing the research in to laboratory meat. It seems like this would be right up Gates’ alley. If it’s not him, then there any number of other so-called philanthropists looking for a business opportunity that gives them a good PR image.
Before we jump for the Soylent Green, don’t write mother nature off. There’s a real chance that true sustainable, natural and organic living could hit the mainstream. Lets not stymie this potential by walking off the cliff in to corporately controlled frankenfood.
If developing nations are given back their food sovereignty, and if those in the West grow their own food and support local farmers, there will be more than enough for everyone.
It’s time to choose the path of natural sovereign freedom, not artificial controlled tyranny.
Keelan Balderson is an independent journalist, documentary filmmaker and Internet radio host from the UK. You can listen to his WideShut Webcast every Monday at 8pm GMT on Resistance Radio. Please support his work by visiting his website: WideShut.co.uk.
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