Meat-ing Demand: Is In Vitro Meat a Pragmatic, Problematic, or Paradoxical Solution?
Even in the midst of an ecological crisis, population and income continue to increase and so too does the global appetite for meat. One response by scientists has been to work towards making in vitro meat (IVM) a commercial reality, which would allow meat to be produced on a large scale without the husbandry and slaughter of enormous numbers of animals, as under the current industrial meat production system. Proponents of IVM technology claim that it could cut hunger, offer public health benefits, mitigate the environmental effects of conventional industrial meat production, and improve animal welfare. However, taking a critical, ecofeminist perspective on IVM highlights the need to assess not only the technical attributes and possibilities of the technology but also its underlying worldview as well as the unintended social and environmental consequences that could result. Reflecting on the question of whether IVM is a pragmatic, problematic, or paradoxical solution to the ills associated with industrial meat production and increasing meat consumption, this article argues that optimistic claims trumpeting the promissory potential of IVM are over-simplistic and warrant closer scrutiny. The importance of careful deliberation on the implications of emerging technologies like IVM cannot be understated because how the ethical discourse unfolds in the early stages will be significant in influencing public perception and social acceptance as well as shaping policy and regulatory design.