"Meatballs": a bioethical question
I mentioned this in the Issues forum, but I guess it belongs here as much as anywhere.
What with the recent controversy about using stem cells in the treatment of human diseases, it seems that other, arguably less controversial and more practical applications for stem cells are being neglected.
I speak, of course, of meat.
My theory is that stem cells, combined perhaps with some small amount of genetic knowledge, could allow Professor Science PhD to "grow" meat without the need for livestock.
Rather than force cows and sheep and pigs to suffer for us (which we already permit), Science could allow us to use a few stem cells from one cow embryo to grow a whole load of steak-shaped meats on poles, or something similar. Imagine a row of those things you get in doner kebab shops.
So basically we'd have meat growing, but there'd be no question of it having a soul or feeling pain or thinking; it'd just be the parts of the cow that are good to eat, with no bones and no brain or head.
So I guess the burning ethical question here is: would you be down with that?
I know it sounds incredibly wrong initially, but really, it seems like a victimless crime. Cows bred for livestock are invariably slaughtered after lives of exploitation anyway, so the idea that suffering might be caused to the embryo hardly applies the way it is made to in the case of humans. The meat would be no more alive than a vegetative human on life support, with no brain. Were it a human, we would want it to have "the right to die".
Is there any sane objection to this?