American Troops to Be Guinea Pigs for Lab-Grown Meat

AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

Speaking as an old soldier myself, I'm getting pretty tired of seeing stories of our American servicemen and women being used as guinea pigs. When preparing to deploy for Desert Storm in 1990, I remember getting an experimental anthrax vaccine which made us pretty sick, along with a malaria prophylaxis that made us pretty loopy. But those, at least, could be (and were) proposed to have some tactical reasoning behind them.

But feeding our troops experimental, lab-grown meat, presumably to address climate change? No. There's no reason to do that.

That doesn't mean they won't try. There's a lot to unpack here, so let's dive in.

The easy answer here is "No." There is absolutely no reason to do this. Real meat is healthier, it is more environmentally sound, and it's not freaking experimental. Look, in the military, people expect that at times they will have to take chances. But this is unnecessary and wrong. There's no strategic or tactical reason to do this; the DoD has nothing, nothing at all to gain from this dunderheaded idea.

See Related: Schadenfreude - Real Meat Turns Out to Be Healthier Than Fake 

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But here we go, regardless.

The first question that should be asked of the Department of Defense and BioMADE is, "Show me your work. Show me how this lab-grown fake meat produces less CO2 than real meat. Include all of your work, your underlying assumptions, and oh, by the way, include all of the various animal husbandry techniques for comparison, as in free-range animals vs. confinement-facility livestock."

"Novel" cell cultures, as in "new," as in "experimental." That's as may be; the human digestive system is, I will grant you, pretty good at accomodating a wide variety of foods. As mammals go we have a pretty middle-of-the-road digestive tract: Longer than obligate carnivores and so capable of handling fruits, tubers, and so on, but without the multiple chambers and fermentation gut flora to allow us to digest rough forage like grasses, ferns, and browse. Our teeth are pretty small and, as mammals go, undifferentiated, and can likewise handle a variety of foods. We're basically walking garbage disposals - but that's no reason to experiment on our troops.

What? $500 million from DoD for this? A program that is experimental, untested, unnecessary, and unwise? A program that has no upside? A program for which there is no strategic or tactical gain? And that's $500 million, mind you, from a country (us) that is bankrupt.

Here's the onion:

Even if UC-Davis is off by an order of magnitude, that should be enough to stomp the brakes on this stupid idea. And forget emissions: This remains an experimental process. If people choose to try this lab-grown meat, they should be free to do so, and likewise free to deal with any health consequences that might arise; there may be none, after all, but that's the point - we don't know. And our troops are not lab rats.

Enough is enough already. Consumer demand for this crap is lacking, so now it sure looks like the Biden administration - let's be honest, we all know who's pushing this - wants to appease the climate scolds by claiming this fake meat is somehow more "green" than the real thing, and by forcing it on our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.

This stuff will never approach the real thing. Biology is unimaginably complex; the millions, maybe billions of cellular processes that produce a lovely porterhouse steak, a chicken leg, or a pork chop are not something we can reproduce, and likely never will be. There's no real reason to try, although, as I always say, let companies try it and let the markets decide. I suspect the market for the amorphous pink goo produced in labs will be minimal.

But leave our troops out of it.

You can look at BioMADE's website here.


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