Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meet Cultured Meat: what's the difference between cloned meat and cultured meat?

 Growing meat with cultures in vitro is not the same thing as “cloning” meat.  Cloning meat typically involves the cloning of rDNA of prized cattle.  The cloned rDNA is then used to implant livestock such as a cow, pig or sheep when then give birth and are raised in the traditional fashion.  

While sometimes these concepts tend to grouped together, they are very different.  The FDA explicitly excluded cultured meat from its definition of cloning because  cultured meat only involves replication of cells in culture, not cloning of whole animals. 
Ranchers are cloning their prized cattle so that they can increase their meat yields.Unfortunately, cloning of cattle involves all the downsides of traditionally raised livestock (environmental harm, risk of food borne disease, etc).  One fact that many may be surprised to know is that most people have eaten cloned meat, they just don't know it.  I guess I should be more precise--you probably haven't eaten cloned meat just the offspring of cloned meat.  It would be too expensive to eat actual cloned meat, because it costs at least 15 grand to clone just one cow.
Because cultured meat will be grown in safe, clinical conditions, cultured meat has the possibility of reducing the environmental and health risks posed by cloned meat.  While cultured meat has critics of its own, conflation of the concepts is dangerous as the benefits and costs of the two types of biotechnologies differ greatly.

Below is a diagram showing how cultured meat is made.  For more information, you can read my post about how cultured meat is made.  You can also visit how stuff works for an interesting discussion (including videos) that show cultured meat is made.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog header image by Dan Salamanunder, licensed under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0.