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Grow Your Own Exploitation

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The quest for cultured meat seems to have a number of millennials excited for the future; homegrown burgers, nuggets and silk, as easy as planting some basil on your windowsill and watering once a day. The harvesting of body-parts made as simple as picking strawberries, and if we’re to believe Isha Datar – the CEO of New Harvest, a non-profit specialising in cultured-meat tech – an abundance of animal flesh without the need to kill.

It always amazes me how promoters of cultured meat seem to think that they provide an answer to the problem of animal exploitation, as if the fact that a burger was grown from cells extracted from the corpse of an animal at the slaughterhouse, or the cells of a living animal makes any difference when considering the morality of animal use.

If you can stomach reading it, this article in the New Scientist goes into great detail discussing the various “breakthroughs” in taste through the culturing of fat as well as muscle tissue. Not to mention one of the main hurdles faced by the Victor Frankenstein movement – producing a “thick enough piece of meat” without having to “combin[e] several small lab-grown pieces.” Just another day in the kitchen for the Adam’s Family, perhaps, but where do the animals fit in with this ‘revolutionary’ idea to cease their slaughter?

Oh, that’s right. It starts with them.

In order for this whole process to exist, one must first assume the legitimacy of animal exploitation; one must accept the notion that animals exist as means to our ends in the first place and that their sole purpose for being here is to satisfy the needs of man. Cultured meat begins with animal exploitation, and ends with the normative message that animals are the sort of beings that can be used as human resources. Currently, “muscle stem cells are most easily obtained from fresh meat at a slaughterhouse or from live animals – preferably young ones since their stem cells are more plentiful.” Datar of New Harvest “hopes to change that by making cell lines available for order from lab supply catalogues or by linking up researchers so those with cultures can share them with others, much as people share sourdough starters to make bread.” This will also enable those with the correct scientific technology to collaborate with one another, enabling two parties to successfully begin cell culturing or cell aeration with an shaking incubator.

So right now, both live and dead animals are being used to fuel the Frankenstein machine; the harvesting process being described as “hard work” – whatever that means. Every bit of lab-grown “meat” has come into existence through the exploitation of an actual animal. That fact does not change whether they continue using current methods or whether they end up with a cell catalogue for future aspiring Frankenstein’s to order from. It would be no different to ordering furniture from a catalogue where the sofa material was human leather; the fact that the leather was grown from the cells of an enslaved human of the past does change the fact that in order for that sofa to exist, we had to first treat human beings as property, as things, in order to harvest their cells. The fact that exploitation is a little more distant does not make it morally acceptable.

It is no different where animals are concerned. Indeed, the assumption that such a product is fit for human use speaks volumes about our perception of animals as things with no moral value in the first place. To the extent that we would have a moral problem with using products with a history inextricably tied to the exploitation of humans, but not have the same problem in the animal context, that is simply indicative of our speciesism in arbitrarily attributing higher moral value to humans for the purpose of being used as resources.

Our consumption or use of human-derived products would unanimously be rejected in light of the clear link between our use of those products and the subsequent normative assumption that humans are the sorts of beings that can be used as our resources.

And that is precisely the point that those who promote cultured meat miss. Animals are not ours to use in the first place. Like humans, they are not the sort of beings that can be thought of as sources food, clothing, or any other “product” in the pipeline currently waiting to be “cultured.” The fact that we consider it acceptable to exploit them for their cells in order to grow muscle tissue in a lab, further highlights why we must continue striving for societal recognition of animal moral value. Speciesism does not die with cultured meat, it is merely reinforced through the assumption that animals are ours to use at all. It accepts as legitimate the idea that animals are of lesser moral value.

Lets leave this laboratory nightmare where it belongs – in horror movies and 1960’s tv shows – and fulfil our obligations to animals by recognising their moral value and going vegan.

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0 Comments
  • vegan truth seeker

    are you being financed by the animal industry!?
    it sure seems that way to me!!

    i’m sick and tired of ecorazzi (and its staff and collaborators) trash everything and everyone that is not 100% vegan but is still trying to help animals!

    wake up and smell reality!
    the entire humanity will NEVER become 100% and thus if it is possible to massively produce cultured meat without killing animals or use them in the near future so be it… and soon!

    besides typing articles behind a keyboard what have you done to convince people to become vegan!?
    i’m vegan and if i’m tired of ecorazzi’s rants against everyone who is doing something for animals (even if they’re not perfect nor vegan) instead of going after the animal industry I can only imagine what those who are not vegan think when they come to this site – they’ll most likely get the idea that vegans are a bunch of snob and arrogant people who believe they’re perfect!

    you want to make people go vegan?
    stop attacking those who are doing something for animals, contact your local schools and organize talks where you show students documentaries like ‘earthlings’, ‘cowspiracy’ and ‘forks over knives’, followed by a q&a session, and I guarantee you’ll convince more people to go vegan in one month than with all the articles you’ll ever write for ecorazzi!

    if we waited for everyone to see the ‘light’ and become vegan (which will never happen) then elephants and whales (to name just a couple) would be almost extinct by now, all animals for human consumption would still be tortured without anyone caring, circuses with animals would still be a common thing, people would still be allowed to torture animals without being illegal in many countries, animals would still be tested on worldwide, and so forth…

    • Carter Felder

      Who are you?

      • Mrpersonman0 .

        He’s a smart guy. Who are you?

        • Carter Felder

          I’d like to know their real name. Thanks.

  • Mrpersonman0 .

    The moment I read ‘millennials’ I knew what this was going to be. Well I read through your diatribe so now you’re going to read this:

    I think your letting the religious zeal surrounding the word ‘exploitation’ cloud your judgement. Any moral system that prevents the exploitation of animals for raw materials for human consumption, indeed any moral system at all for any demographic, has to be justified by the consequences of that system’s absence. The only reason we’d ever assign ‘moral value’ to animals (I won’t consider anything as, or less, complicated than photoheterotrophes but given your stance on the use of lifeless stem cells I’d like to know exactly where your line is) as we would do to ourselves is if these animals share traits with us. I do believe they share the capacity for pain and fear and that as a rule they’re sentient. By that assumption we ought not to inflict unnecessary suffering on these creatures; that should be the grounding for any moral system we create i.e. all actions towards animals that don’t cause *suffering* are permissable. Why then would we be so squeamish as to fixate on the exploitation aspect of any action that *doesn’t* cause harm to the animal? We exploit plants all the time, and rocks. It’s irrelevant that they can’t feel pain or torment, in practice they *don’t* feel pain or torment. They also don’t have the capacity to give informed consent for their matter to be consumed but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone, why should the situation be different for non-human animals? Nevemind *why* or *whether* an organism experiences pain, the important thing is that we make sure that they *don’t* experience pain because of us. That is why the idea of ‘exploitation’ being evil *in and of itself* is just a taboo+. Irrational. We should focus on the suffering aspect only, because that’s something animals can actually understand.

    Unless of course I’m wrong. Maybe I overlooked something. Still we’re left with a thriving animal agriculture industry no matter what the truth is. And as the name suggests the murder and the torture involved is on an industrial scale *right now*. Your intentions may be noble (depending on the ramifications of where your aforementioned line is) but you must admit that the carnivore to vegan conversion rate is slow. You aren’t going to be able to reach as many meat lovers with your picketing and shouting “Frankenstein’s” [sic] over the internet are you’re going to reach with cultured meats in a given amount of time. Adopting the latter means, sooner rather than later, we get vast tracts of land returned to their natural state, substantial reductions on greenhouse emissions and the global heard reduced to a handful. With that perhaps we could keep some animals (who’d disrupt the ecosystem if released) in a kind of park and dart them once in a while. Hell maybe one day we’ll be able to provide all meat from a few stem cells that we’ve preserved for centuries, long after the animals died of natural causes. You cannot argue that this wouldn’t be an improvement. If however this isn’t good enough for you, and you think that lobbying for full veganism straight away is the only moral choice, and especially if your campaigning actually manages to slow or stop stem cell tech, then the suffering of every single animal in the absence of that technology is your fault.
    If you can’t let yourself chose the lesser of two evils when the chips are down, don’t pretend to care. You’re not a moral person you’re a fraud.

    +I suppose, historically, exploitation would be mutually inclusive with suffering, which is why the word was edified into the definition of veganism. The situation is changing, but like any ideological zealot I guess you just pray too hard to the e-word to be able to see that. The human leather example tells me that for some reason you’re uncomfortable with using humans for raw materials under any circumstances. Ya know, there are people willing to donate their own stem cells for meat; maybe you could try some of that. No chains, no murder, it’s perfectly ethical 🙂

France’s ban of faux-meat branding won’t stop veganism

I’ll take “mycoproteinous food tube” over a tube of dead pig any day.

Concerned about endangered animals? Stop eating them

Methods of animal conservation that support the exploitation of animals don’t exist for the animals, they exist for human profit.

What you can do if live exports disturb you

The outcry should go further than importation and should be directed at the fact that the animals in question were on their way to slaughter in the first place.