I was invited by the BBC's World Have Your Say to be on air as part of their show discussing the lab-grown burger. Due to some factors, I did not get on air. Nevertheless I have my opinion and here it goes.
I am a vegetarian, by choice, by culture, by my lifestyle and by my beliefs. Being a vegetarian is not going to change for me, though I have a lot of friends whom I love dearly who are non-vegetarians. This post is neither pro-vegetarianism nor against non-vegetarianism. It is about something else.
This week I am in London and I witnessed the food tasting of the lab-grown burger. It is an understatement to say I did not appreciate it.
Maybe it could go well with animal rights activists. The environmentalists could also relate to the low greenhouse gases because of the cows. So many vegetarians could start eating the rich protein diet because no animal is slaughtered here. But what are we doing to the world in the longer run?
When the world is already facing gluten issues, food-allergy issues, organic and non-organic issues, isn't this just an addition to all potential nutritional imbalances?
I ask, can pregnant and breast feeding women eat this?"
Can children eat it?
Even a majority of the non-vegetarians whom I met yesterday in that session, said, "Yuck, so gross!"
How much of the research money was spent on analyzing the nutritional content of the "animal protein cake," as someone mentioned it to be?
My friend Kendra asked, "Maybe throw in some rubber veggies and plastic cheese?" Oh, why not? Yes, please!
We already have the issue of genetically-modified food. And now when we go grocery shopping, are we going to find another label along with genetically-modified food, gluten-free food, organic food, sugar-free food -- real meat and lab-grown meat? Almost funny, but maybe not!
I just Googled the food wastage issue. And some facts which I found from very reliable organizations are this.
This is roughly one-third of the total food production. In developing countries it is at the production stage and in developed countries it is at the consumption stage. And this food includes sum total of vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan options. And more statistics say that the total production of food is enough to feed the entire world population. Read more from the UNEP site.
The point I am driving at is this $325,000 research has not addressed what it claims to potentially address. Global meat production and wastage is part of this terrible vicious cycle of food wastage. Go to the roots of the issue. Spend $325,000 if you fancy that. But do not waste it on eliminating symptoms with attractive tools like technology and biotechnology and lab-grown meat. Use $325,000 or even more to solve the basic problem which the researcher has claimed to have addressed -- solve the food problem of the world. Use or don't use technology or biotechnology for that. Do what it takes to solve that issue.
Solve issues with storage facilities or transport infrastructure in developing worlds. Improvise upon our unimaginative and unwise planning. Modify our wasteful lifestyles.
Research the entire food production cycle, analyze all factors and contribute to eliminating waste.
How many of us just toss our salad into the bin because we need to have space in our stomach for the next course of the meal?
How many of us just lay down our knives and forks in the middle of our main course because the dessert is waiting?
And then how many of us just take only a few bites of that dessert, wasting the remaining, because we are suddenly conscious of our calories?
Improve lifestyle and choices.
The food which gets spoiled in the refrigerator -- what about it? In one week, just toss the wasted food alone in a separate bin and analyze what to do about it. Yes, I challenge you to this exercise today!
Let us go down to the root of the problem, and not try to eliminate the symptoms to create more serious versions of the same problem.
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