The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will be announcing plans this week for a $1 million prize to the "first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in-vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012."
In other words, who here among us will invent the next Chicken McNugget?
For years, scientists have worked to develop technologies to grow tissue cultures that could be consumed like meat without the expense of land or feed and the disease potential of real meat. In theory, once grown, this tissue could be shaped and given texture with the kinds of additives and structural agents that are used to give products such as soy burgers a more meaty texture.
"Because meat substitutes are produced under controlled conditions impossible to maintain in traditional animal farms, they can be safer, more nutritious, less polluting and more humane than conventional meat,” says New Harvest, a nonprofit organization formed to promote the field.
However, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of a contest to find a new non-meat meat product PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk said the decision to sponsor a prize caused "a near civil war in our office," since so many PETA members are repulsed by the thought of eating animal tissue, even if no animals are killed.
"My main concern is, as the largest animal rights organization in the world, it's our job to introduce the philosophy and hammer it home that animals are not ours to eat," countered Lisa Lange, a vice president of the organization. "I would be much more comfortable promoting eating roadkill."
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