It's not the first time I've heard of this stuff, but it's the first time I've heard anyone get really excited about it. William Saletan can't wait for us to start eating fake meat. Well, fake, not fake exactly, more like semi-real, or mostly unreal, or entirely disgusting. Agriscientists would stick some muscle cells on a collagen matrix and fire up the grill. The original paper puts it this way: "these cells fuse into myotubes, which can then differentiate into myofibers. The resulting myofibers may then be harvested, cooked, and consumed as meat."
No word on whether meatpulpproduct is best consumed rare or medium rare.
If a bunch of lab rats want to play around with meatslime, power to 'em. And if it ends up being a way to take a compact protein source on long space journeys, or if McDonald's makes MSG-laced meatslime burgers in 2050, well, okay. What they're serving now isn't much different.
But Saletan calls lab-grown meat "the moral calling of our age," not unlike abolition or giving women the vote. We'll be able to grow a disease- and fat-free hamburger. Cows will be freed from bondage and standing on the bread line, and the land they inhabited will be returned to its natural state, clean and unfouled.
There are lots of logical arguments to be made against his (ahem) unpalatable position, and then there's my knee-jerk reaction: It just sounds so totally gross.