Monday, August 6, 2012

The Rise of the Me-Burger?

Back in February news broke that a university researcher had successfully grown bovine muscle tissue in a lab, although a prototype burger made this way would cost an estimated £200,000.

I was immediately reminded of an Arthur C. Clarke short story (spoiler alert) in which synthetic meat is routinely eaten, but its nature is disguised for marketing purposes. The latest product is the wildly popular "Ambrosia Plus", which turns out to be synthesized human meat.

Could this be about to come true? Given that synthetic meat is going to cost more than animal meat for the foreseeable future, its only niche is going to be as a status symbol for rich people.  As Clarke pointed out, up until now human meat has been almost unobtainable, and in most societies the steps required to obtain it have made it taboo. But soon it seems likely that anyone with the necessary money will be able to have a sample without any ethical concerns (although the squick remains).

But then, why not go one step further? The original sample from which the synthetic human-burger is grown has to come from someone, and the identity of that someone could become a marketing point. One can envisage a particularly egocentric billionaire offering his guests burgers cloned from himself. Or perhaps famous people will find themselves being offered large sums of money for a biopsy. Would you like to nibble on Naomi Campbell?  Or perhaps a bite of Usain Bolt?

1 comment:

Adam said...

Fast food takes on a whole new meaning...