Monday, August 08, 2005

the art of creating a frankenjacket, or: a new vegetarian ethics

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When I was a vegan, I spent a lot of time thinking about what was okay for me, as a caring member of the vegan society, to eat. For instance - shrimp. They don't really have brains, do they? And some vegans don't eat honey, because you have to agitate all those bees. But even if you care about bees, they make too much of the stuff
anyway, and none of them get hurt, right? Well, now what if the animals we eat were never hurt by us eating their meat? It all makes my head hurt.

Here is the vegetarian dilemma of the 21st century - is it okay to wear leather or eat meat if it was created by taking a small pinch of cells from the animal and regrowing them in a lab over polymers unattached to the animal?

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr at the Tissue Culture and Art Project are attempting to grow a semi-living jacket out of living mouse skin cells and human bone cells in preliminary experiments to create a victim-free leather. The jacket is being grown in a specially designed bioreactor that acts as a kind of surrogate body for the cells. Since the tissues are given a proper nutritional environment, they keep growing, just as if they were still on their host bodies. While the zombie jacket is currently only a creepy 2 inches high and 1.4 inches wide, designs for larger jackets are already underway.

The new victim-free jacket is part of the group's hopes to eventually live in a "victim-free utopia," a world where our clothing and food no longer has to come about by harming the animals that we eat and use, a world where meat is grown detached from anything that can think or feel pain. Despite being creepy on a whole nother level from traditional meat, how can we really argue with the ethics of such an idea when animals live in such horrible conditions?

Source article from Wired news

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