QUACKCINES, CANCER, AND SYNTHETICS… OH MY! (TO THE WIZARD OF OZ ...
Well, colour me surprised...
When I first heard that Mr Globalooney was expanding his portfolio of philanthronihilism to include not just buying up farmland to grow GMOs which had been turned into quackcines (to make sure everyone gets quackcinated and stays "healthy", and to ensure that Mr. Globalooney remained stupendously wealthy, of course) but also to promote yet another philanthronihilist project - synthetic meat (which could, incidentally, be 3D printed and sculpted to look like real rib-eye) - I had a nagging question: just exactly how were they going to ensure that it was really meat protein that was really being lab grown?
One thing that popped into my noggin at the time (and probably popped into quite a few other noggins out there contemplating the same thing) was the rhyming answer: "cancer." At the time that this popped into my noggin, I thought, "Nah... that's as repulsive and silly as someone advocating that we eat crickets, meal worms, and other insects." Little did I know that Der Hochklaus von Blohschwab Freiherr von Bomburst would shortly be touting the scrumptulodeliciousness of crickets, so I was not entirely surprised when V.T. spotted and shared this:
So, straight to it: ponder the following:
There is, however, another option on the way for those in search of better guilt-free protein: growing meat from cells in a lab, without raising any living animals for slaughter. Yes, really.Thank the biotech revolution. Under the right conditions, animal cells can be grown in a petri dish, or even at scale in factories full of stainless-steel drums. For decades, companies such as Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson have cultured large volumes of cells to produce vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and other biotherapeutics. Now the idea is that we might as well eat these cells, too.
The big honking asterisk is that normal meat cells don’t just keep dividing forever. To get the cell cultures to grow at rates big enough to power a business, several companies, including the Big Three, are quietly using what are called immortalized cells, something most people have never eaten intentionally. Immortalized cells are a staple of medical research, but they are, technically speaking, precancerous and can be, in some cases, fully cancerous.Don’t worry: Prominent cancer researchers tell Bloomberg Businessweek that because the cells aren’t human, it’s essentially impossible for people who eat them to get cancer from them, or for the precancerous or cancerous cells to replicate inside people at all.
Eat Just Inc. declined to comment for this story. Believer Meats Chief Scientific Officer Yaakov Nahmias says that his company uses immortalized cells in its cultured chicken and that his team has somehow, by means he says even they don’t understand, created immortalized cells that don’t share any genetic signatures with cancer cells. (Two cell biologists I shared his comments with expressed skepticism.) Eric Schulze, Upside Foods vice president for global scientific and regulatory affairs, says his company stands by its FDA nod and its safety protocols. “Many of the inputs and processes we use have been used for decades or even centuries in food production,” he said in a statement. “Our product is as safe as the chicken you eat every day.”Nonetheless, interviews with dozens of current and former employees, executives, investors, analysts and other insiders, as well as reviews of the companies’ regulatory filings and past statements, make clear that the cultured meat industry is anxious about its use of immortalized cells and is doing what it can to avoid the subject. In part, this is because scientists aren’t as quick as journalists to use the words “essentially impossible” in writing. Despite the informal scientific consensus around the safety of immortalized cells, there just aren’t any long-term health studies to prove it....You’d never be able to grow cultured meat at scale using normal cells without collecting frequent biopsies from a herd of donor animals, which is expensive, messy and not quite cruelty-free.That’s where immortalized cells come in. They’ve been used in medical research since the early 1950s, when the first and most famous immortal cell line—derived from the cervical cancer cells of a woman named Henrietta Lacks—was successfully grown in a lab. Lacks is widely viewed as a victim of failed medical ethics and systemic racism; her cells, which have gone on to generate billions of dollars in economic value, were taken without her knowledge or permission. They’ve also saved lives. The so-called HeLa line of cells first enabled researchers to continue study without fresh samples from living humans or animals, leading to breakthrough discoveries in oncological and immunological science. Today, AstraZeneca Plc and J&J’s Covid-19 vaccines are grown using immortalized human kidney and retinal cells, respectively. The process is a lot like making cultured meat. Immortal cells are grown in a big steel drum called a bioreactor, ultimately generating thousands of pounds of cell mass.
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