USDA does not allow animal tumors to enter food chain. But lab-grown meat is made of tumor cells.
According to Bill Gates and the World Economic Forum, ongoing global warming threatens to destroy humanity. Methane, coming from the belches and farts of cows, is a greenhouse gas (GHG). So, cows are a problem!
Fortunately, Bill Gates has a solution for us, explained in this video. We need to stop growing cattle and switch to lab-grown synthetic beef.
The World Economic Forum expects we will eat “synthetic meat” in 16 years. (the article below was written 4 years ago)
Bill Gates made sizable investments in “synthetic meat” manufacturers, expecting to turn a nice profit.
The CNBC article explains that “lab-grown meat,” that is, cell cultures grown in giant stainless vats, is not the same as “fake meat” made of soy or pea protein:
Vegetarians have long touted the ethical and environmental problems with meat production and consumption. Start-ups such as MosaMeat, JUST and Memphis Meats are tissue-engineering meat in a lab to allow people to enjoy being a carnivore without any of the environmental or ethical hang-ups.
Dubbed clean meat, the efforts are distinct from “fake meat,” like the soy protein “chicken” you can find in your grocery store today. Unlike Morningstar or Boca Burgers, clean meat really is meat; it just grows in a lab instead of being part of an animal.
Okay, but what kinds of cells is that lab meat grown from?
Lab-Grown “Meat” is Made of “Immortalized” Cancer Cells
This excellent Bloomberg article (paywall-free link) clarifies that all lab meat is grown as immortalized tumor cells. As the article explains, these same cells are used to produce traditional vaccines.
Thank the biotech revolution. Under the right conditions, animal cells can be grown in a petri dish, or even at scale in factories full of stainless-steel drums. For decades, companies such as Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson have cultured large volumes of cells to produce vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and other biotherapeutics. Now the idea is that we might as well eat these cells, too.
What are these cells?
The big honking asterisk is that normal meat cells don’t just keep dividing forever. To get the cell cultures to grow at rates big enough to power a business, several companies, including the Big Three, are quietly using what are called immortalized cells, something most people have never eaten intentionally. Immortalized cells are a staple of medical research, but they are, technically speaking, precancerous and can be, in some cases, fully cancerous.
The article puts a “human face” on some of these cell lines, for example, the “HeLa line” made from the cervical cancer of Henrietta Lacks:
That’s where immortalized cells come in. They’ve been used in medical research since the early 1950s, when the first and most famous immortal cell line—derived from the cervical cancer cells of a woman named Henrietta Lacks—was successfully grown in a lab.
The distinction between pre-cancerous and cancerous cells is relatively minor: cancerous cells, by definition, can float away from the tumor site, travel through the blood or lymph, and start a new tumor (metastases) in another location in the body.
The distinction is important for the clinical outcome of a patient with a newly discovered tumor but involves only a minor bio-cellular distinction.
Don’t worry: Prominent cancer researchers tell Bloomberg Businessweek that because the cells aren’t human, it’s essentially impossible for people who eat them to get cancer from them, or for the precancerous or cancerous cells to replicate inside people at all. … And cow tumors sometimes wind up in store-bought ground chuck, too. [not true – tumors are NEVER allowed by USDA inspectors – see below – I.C] Of course, the facts might not matter much if ranchers or other players in the traditional meat industry felt threatened enough to declare a public-relations war. It’s all too easy to imagine misleading Fox News chyrons about chicken tumors and cancer burgers.
Not so misleading! The main problem of growing an endless “lab meat” supply is that normal tissue cells cannot endlessly replicate (see above). There is a limit on how many times they will divide.