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But what will we eat?

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Food stuffs. Agriculture. Nutrition.

Gengineered Superfood? Cloned meat?

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    C M Weller

    Genetic engineering is already here, even if it is currently evil (coughMonsantocough) but when we get out into space, we won’t exactly have access to a lot of fertile soil.

    [I think about things way too much, and colonising neighbouring planetary bodies is going to be one of our goals]

    Our two closest targets – the moon and Mars – don’t show any evidence of even the microscopes flora and fauna that make plant life possible. The quick and dirty solution is to create a plant that would grow in granite dust if it had to.

    The logic goes thus: Planets already have dirt. We can therefore assume that there’s some suite of minerals and whatnot just waiting for something to absorb it. What we lack is the microbiota to make the minerals available for plants used to Terran conditions. Therefore, make a plant that already carries its microbiota with it.

    In my imagined future, Australian bioengineers created the Tukkatukka. A tuber distantly related to the Sweet Potato that extracts human-friendly nutrients from any soil its put in and stores them in said tuber. The toxins are segregated into the leaves and vines.

    And since it grows like a weed, it also serves the treble purposes of being a terraforming tool, an oxygen generator, and early colony nutritional source.

    Of course, closer to now, the engineers are focusing on poison-resistant crops and animals with super-muscle mutations so that they have more meat. But there’s also a race to create meat without having the animal attached.

    Scientists have successfully created cloned muscle tissue in laboratories. It’s no great stretch to imagine ‘tube grown’ steak from an animal that lived and died hundreds of years ago. Heck, it may even be possible to commit technical cannibalism by consuming ‘tube grown’ human flesh. [Yeah, I think about things WAY too much]

    Would there even need to be legal trouble from that? The donor is not physically hurt, after all. Mental anguish, on the other hand… but we’re humans. We have a kink for everything…


    I attended a presentation at TusCon convention a few years back that was all about hydroponic greenhouse experimentation at McMurdo Station with the intent to replicate on other planets for human habitations. I imagine that genetically engineering plants to optimize the nutrient and moisture use in a hydroponic system isn’t out of the question either.
    I couldn’t remember the name of the program for space ag, but I found this and I think the gentleman I listened to was part of this:

    Elizabeth Bear

    There’s an interesting debate over whether cloned meat is vegan.

    Matthew Harbowy

    For those of you who might be interested in the practicalities of GM food and its usefulness to vegan diets, I would like to point everyone at

    This is a project I am helping to fund and has a few vegans on the team. While the veganosity might be sniffed at by some, this is synthetic dna produced from elementary building blocks, cloned (in a number of steps) into yeast, and “brewed” like beer. The cheese can be produced from synthetic dna copying the casein proteins of any mammal, from cows to narwhals to humans.

    no animals, and certainly no animal suffering (if you don’t count lab techs), is involved.

    I would be happy to answer any questions here, or if you’d like to meet me or members of the team, feel free to drop by

    in the SF Bay Area.

    -best regards,

    Matt Harbowy

    @hbergeronx – also at gmail

    Bruce Sterling

    New work from the merry pranksters at NextNature.Org.



    The In Vitro Meat Cookbook
    Using the format of the cookbook as a storytelling medium, the In Vitro Meat Cookbook is a visually stunning exploration of the new “food cultures” lab-grown meat might create. This book approaches lab-grown meat not just from a design and engineering perspective, but also from a societal and ethical one.

    This cookbook features dozens of recipes that are delicious, uncanny, funny and inspiring. Think of meat paint, revived dodo wings, meat ice cream, cannibal snacks, steaks knitted like scarves and see-through sushi grown under perfectly controlled conditions. Though you can’t cook these recipes just yet, they’ve all been developed with strict culinary rigor.

    For sample recipes click here….


    The delightful and weird recipes are complimented by fascinating interviews and thought-provoking essays from scientists, activists, philosophers and chefs. Our network of experts will ensure that the cookbook is as scientifically accurate as possible, all while remaining lively and highly approachable for a general audience.

    The In Vitro Meat Cookbook is just at home with your art, philosophy and science books as it is on your cookbook shelf. As the ultimate conversation starter about the future of food, it will redefine not just how you think about lab-grown meat, but how you think about the ways we produce meat right now. Rather than pushing an agenda, this book aims to inspire educated debate.

    Be one of the first to own the In Vitro Meat Cookbook by ordering your copy here today! This book will not be available in stores until autumn 2014.

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