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Richard Dawkins ponders whether synthetic human meat can ‘overcome our taboo against cannibalism’

Richard Dawkins ponders whether synthetic human meat can ‘overcome our taboo against cannibalism’
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Richard Dawkins ponders whether synthetic human meat can ‘overcome our taboo against cannibalism’
Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, posted an article on Twitter about synthetic meat created from stem cells — something he said he has been “looking forward to” for a long time. (Don Arnold/Getty Images)

British scientist and well-known atheist Richard Dawkins pondered whether lab-created human meat could be the next “clean meat” and “overcome our taboo against cannibalism,” according to the Daily Mail.

What did Dawkins say?

Dawkins posted an article on Twitter about synthetic meat created from stem cells, something he said he has been “looking forward to” for a long time.

Then, he took things a step further:

“Tissue culture ‘clean meat’ already in 2018? I’ve long been looking forward to this,” Dawkins wrote, before sharing a link to the article. “What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus ‘yuck reaction’ absolutism.”

Tissue culture “clean meat” already in 2018? I’ve long been looking forward to this.https://t.co/p41NR3NEZn
What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus “yuck reaction” absolutism.

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 3, 2018

The tweet was met with mixed responses from his followers. Some were appalled at the thought of human meat, while some seemed intrigued by the potential benefits of “clean” human meat as a food source.

About ‘test tube meat’

Scientists have been working on creating lab-grown meat for years, with Dutch scientists creating the first test tube beef hamburger in 2013, and San Francisco-based Memphis Meats has grown poultry meat and meatballs from stem cells.

It is created by:

  • Harvesting the stem cells of a living creature
  • Culturing the cells in sugars and minerals
  • The cells grow in bioreactor tanks into skeletal muscle

More than just a taboo

Despite the implication in Dawkins’ tweet, aversion to cannibalism is more than simply a taboo, as human flesh contains infectious proteins that can cause a chain reaction of diseases and result in death; it also carries the risk of contraction of blood borne diseases.

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Would you eat HUMAN meat grown in a lab? Controversial scientist Richard Dawkins suggests it could 'eradicate the taboo against cannibalism'

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