Andras Forgacs | Bioprinting Leather & Meat

In 2012, it took the growth and slaughter of 60 billion land animals to feed and clothe 7 billion humans. In 30 years, by 2050, the world’s human population is likely to hit 10 billion. By today’s standards it will take 100 billion land animals to feed and clothe the earth’s population. This is fucking insanity – let me point out that we don’t have a big enough planet to accommodate that level of growth or consumption. Such delusions are condemning the planet but aside from a fully vegan society – maybe there’s another solution.

Andras Forgacs is the co-founder and CEO of Modern Meadow, a company developing biomaterials that include cultured meat and leather which “will require no animal slaughter and much lower inputs of land, water, energy and chemicals”. Their prototype products would change the course of the planet – this is how big the idea is…

It stands to reason that if society will not voluntarily give up consuming and wearing animal products we’re going to need a different way to create them. Personally, I’d prefer a utopian ethical society where we all ride unicorns across rainbow bridges and live in cotton candy cloud houses but humans are childishly obsessed with, addicted to and mindlessly self indulgent about their appetite and status anxieties. In a meat and potatoes society, fundamental products like meat and leather are only slightly less important than breathing. It takes rare people with extraordinary self-control and conscience to make the necessary life choices, to live in such an exploitative society as ours while forgoing all of the products we’ve been raised to inhale incessantly since the time we were old enough to chew.

But what about the others? What about the mindless wandering souls who don’t have an iota of conviction when it comes to making the world a better place? What about those who couldn’t give a damn about any of the critical issues associated with producing the wasteful and abhorrent products plaguing our bloated and bloody market economy? You can be damn sure there’s a section of our society who will go down kicking and screaming when it comes to giving up their Philly cheese-steak sandwiches and unborn baby calf-skin ottomans. And if we can’t simply kill these zombies, how do we inspire them to change?

Easy: Punch them in the throat and while recovering on the ground switch their burger with a cultured beef patty. OK I’m being facetious. It could actually be as easy as offering an alternative product for cheaper than the real thing; which is precisely why the knockoff goods market in Asia is so lucrative. But if taken a step farther, what if these products could be engineered in such a way to have highly desirable qualities: “meat” with zero cholesterol or zero fat and high omega content or stain proof, water proof synthetic leather that has double or triple the lifespan of its animal derived counterpart. It’s an interesting potential.

If we want to survive long enough to enjoy living in the future, we must seriously consider such alternative products. Society suddenly going cold-turkey on animal products may not be realistic; but giving them quality engineered substitutes might just do the trick.

Don’t forget to watch the video up top.

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