Red Revolution: Stem Cell Technology

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“The primary threat to nature and people today comes from centralising and monopolising power and control. Not until diversity is made the logic of production will there be a chance for sustainability, justice and peace. Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is survival imperative.”

_Vandana Shiva

Why do we have to worry about rising food demand in such technological age?  Exciting news was presented on BBC NEWS this morning about stem cell technology, the production of meat in laboratory. Scientists are working on it to reduce the cost of production and few other drawbacks linked to its characteristics (taste, form), to make it feasible for industrial production in the future. The technology was presented by a guest speaker in the studio as ‘NO BRAIN-NO PAIN’ technology and it will save animals from brutality. It might sound good for people working for animal rights and especially for the global corporations. However it should make clear that stem cell technology is not a new technology and scientists have been working on it since long.

In existing literature, several justifications are given in the favour of stem cell technology in addition to NO BRAIN-NO PAIN. According to Steinfield et al (2006, cited in Betti, 2009, p.14) ‘in the light of sizeable negative impacts of livestock production, introduction of stem cell technology (in vitro meat production) is becoming increasingly justifiable’. The negative impacts of current meat production are pointed out as consumption of fossil fuels, land and water resources. According to Steinfield, current meat production practices are contributing to 15% to 24% of greenhouse emission as a result of grazing and deforestation. According to Vein (2004, cited in Betti, 2009, P.14) ’considering the benefits of stem cell technology (in vitro meat production technology) it is not surprising that a number of parties (Global Corporations) have proposed (and patented) the methodology for actualizing this idea.

Despite of all advantages as mentioned by Steinfield, the technology still seems problematic. As we have seen in the case of Green Revolution, the patenting of seeds and promotion of selected species resulted into monoculture and as a result, many traditional species especially of rice and wheat became extinct. This time the object under experiment is livestock rather than crop. And the term ‘NO BRAIN- NO PAIN’ as mentioned above could also be seen contrary, in the form of species extinction. In other words, brutality of slaughter will be replaced by the brutality of extinction. It would also result into extinction of traditional farming practices, and livelihoods of poor farmers which are dependent on livestock production.

Though it would be too early to build an opinion about the future and impacts of stem cell technology, however by looking into Green Revolution it could be concluded that this technology would be another disaster for the right of existence of species after green revolution, and definitely again a success story for  global corporations in economic terms.

References

Betti, D. M., (2009), Possibilities for an in vitro meat production systemjournal of Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 11 (2010) 13-22. P.14

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One Response to “Red Revolution: Stem Cell Technology”

  1. ngoziokei Says:

    Stem cell technology is the production of meat in the labouratory. Of course the animal right people likes this idea, but it does not give one the best natural nutritional values of meat consumption, that is necessary for human growth and development. The intake of meat, produced from technology will definitely make negative impacts on human consumption. One can’t use science technology to reverse what nature is main to be and serve for mankind as a whole. It will definitely destroy the animal trade/marketing business, reduce job opportunities for the people and decrease the appreciation of land owners, farmers and possession of livestocks for livelihood.

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