Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Technical Difficulties: Toward a Critical, Reflexive Stance on In Vitro Meat
This paper critically examines in vitro meat by the fundamental fact that it is a technological fix for problems associated with industrial meat production and a growing human population. Some issues discussed are applicable to technology in general, and others are particular to in vitro meat. Throughout the article, examples of other technological products are used to show precedence for the existence of uncertainties from technology, and thus we should also expect in vitro meat to give rise to unforeseen consequences. I take as a starting point that industrial meat production poses serious environmental and welfare concerns to both human and nonhuman animals. Further, in vitro meat is said to address all such issues with industrial meat. The literature on in vitro meat has so far been decidedly favorable on the whole, so this paper aims to balance these viewpoints by adding in a critical perspective. I end by discussing a general framework for a critical science and critical ethics that would be necessary in order to accept in vitro meat as a widespread and ethical alternative to traditional meat. If such conditions cannot be met, I argue that in vitro meat is not a responsible solution to current problems associated with meat production and consumption.