1. ESRC Genomics Network (archive)
  2. Gengage
  3. The Human Genre Project

Cesagen · Research

In Vitro Meat in Context

Neil Stephens

Start date

2010-01-01

Contact

stephensn@cardiff.ac.uk, Tel: 02920 875386

Background

In Vitro Meat involves growing stem cells under laboratory conditions to produce meat for human consumption. Essentially using many of the techniques of Regenerative Medicine, scientists aim to produce muscle tissue that can be eaten without any animal death involved. They suggest the technology – once developed – could deliver significant benefits in terms of lowering the ecological toll of global meat production, animal welfare issues, and global food poverty.

Aims

The project aims to document the development of this technology from a Science and Technology Studies perspective. I am interested in the social framing of the technology, the relationship between In Vitro Meat and biomedical tissue engineering, and the emergence of a promissory realm intended to enrol expertise and financial support to the field.

Methods

Semi-structured interviews with scientists and other individuals that have aligned themselves with In Vitro Meat technology.

Project update

Emerging Themes:

  • In Vitro Meat is an ‘as yet undefined ontological object’, meaning it is something that does not easily fit within existing categories, in this case around food and kinship. Subsequently, what In Vitro Meat actually ‘is’ is still contested and challenging.
  • Many of the scientists active in the field spend the majority of their doing biomedical research and there is clear overlap between biomedical and In Vitro Meat expertise.
  • Most In Vitro Meat researchers still struggle to attract significant funding to their research efforts and they are developing a ‘promissory realm’ linking the technology to ecological, economic and animal welfare improvements to enrol support.

Publications

Stephens, N. (2010) 'In Vitro Meat: Zombies on the Menu?', SCRIPTed, 7: 2, pp 394. Available here.