A new scientist article today discusses the early stage research producing meat within a lab.
I personally think the time-frames are far far too ambitious. I also find myself pondering the consequences of its eventual success, as I have no doubt it will be successful one day.
In the first instance, what is the moral stance on killing animals for food?
I am a big advocate of ethical farming practises where the animals are kept in free-range conditions and have a relatively good lifestyle. I am also an advocate of humane slaughter and purchasing meat from local farms (something that is very difficult in my current location, in the UK it was far easier to do and I will be returning to that practise). I do not think that killing animals is inherently wrong or immoral, although a duty of care would demand that we are careful to ensure the least amount of suffering is inflicted.
Are there other options?
We have the option of feeding ourselves healthily on a vegetarian diet, but with some sacrifice at the individual level. It is not a choice for those with sensitive stomach conditions. Nevertheless, many people are vegetarian for ethical reasons and there are some possible health benefits. In the future it seems there will be an additional option in synthetic meat that might well offer healthier alternatives to the meat most people can access today.
Is synthetic meat any more ethical than raising animals to slaughter?
At present, the cells have to be obtained from animals, as does the "food" the cells are given (fetal calf serum). So, while the quantity of animals slaughtered may be lessened, it still involves animal slaughter. I am not sure there is a clear cut moral superiority in place here. Reduction of animals being slaughtered, yes, but still slaughter.
I am unsure. The prospect of wiping out animal farming and the resultant loss of livelihoods and farms is quite daunting. But a way of life is not necessarily a reason to continue immoral acts, if they are indeed immoral, and farming does damage the natural landscape. What niggles at me more is the loss of diversity farming has given us in the pig, sheep, cattle, chicken etc breeds we have today and the joy it can be to keep such animals and be in touch with where our food comes from. I have kept livestock, I have grown my own food, and there really is nothing in comparison to that sense of achievement in doing so, nor the quality of the food produced. I have not hunted animals but I can see how that might achieve the same sense of accomplishment. So maybe I simply have an attachment to a the way of life and a certain skill set that is grounded in emotion rather than reason. I would certainly be sorry to see it disappear. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the future.
I know I have not been posting much recently. It has everything to do with the stress of wrapping up my work here and moving to the UK. I am constantly tired and just need to focus on doing everything so i don't mess things up in the same way i did when moving out here. :)
I apologise for the absence but will post when I can during the next ouple of weeks. I should be able to get back on track once the move has occurred.
There has been a lot of recent unrest in the UK, leading to violent riots and the usual political pundits spouting their opinions about the causes of such disruption and behaviour. But this social phenomenon does not appear to be a recent development. Claims made about moral decay in today's society are looking at a very narrow spectrum of history and also, in my opinion, viewing history through typical rose-tinted glasses. I wonder how much of this is a generational thing. The cries of increasing immorality seem to occur on a fairly regular cycle, every 2-3 decades.
"Hooligan: A history of reputible fears" published in 1982 following the civil unrest and riots of the previous year, charts peaks of social disorder and the political and cultural reaction towards it. It illustrates how moral decay" is not a recent occurrence. The history goes back to the 16th century where songs that make heroes out of criminals (analogous to gangsta rap music of today) cause similar cries over decreasing social morality. This blog (http://www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/) provides a nice summary of the book.
So is this a generational thing? When are politicians and newspaper columnists going to stop taking the easy route of playing the blame game, scapegoating every hot topic or recent innovation with claims that this is the reason for the problems? Because, if historical evidence is to be believed, it is not the so called decay in social morality that is to blame. There are other, more fundamental, issues in society. For example, significant class inequality. But addressing that type of thing is much harder than claiming it is social media/rap music/rises in liberalism/bad parenting/teaching or general "moral decay". I can't say that I am confident that politicians will ever take the harder path over the easier one with nice soundbites, so I expect we will just be doomed to keep repeating the same cycle. Isn't there a saying about repeating the mistakes of history floating around somewhere?
This article was brought to my attention today and highlights a particularly poignant case.
A legally married gay couple who legally tied the knot 7 years ago in Massachusetts have been denied their application for one of the partners to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse to an American citizen. The partner in question, Anthony John Makk, is Australian and has lived in the US legally the entire time he has been here under different visa schemes. The couple have been living together for 19 years and to top off the situation Anthony is the caregiver for his spouse, Bradford Wells, who is sick with AIDS.
There is no reason to deny this petition for citizenship and Anthony seems like the ideal citizen. The rejection was cited as being based on the Defense of Marriage Act as the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.
The changes that need to happen are at the federal level, not the state level, and cases such as this seem to be based on arbitrary definitions that focus on the letter of the law and miss the point. Two people in love in a long term committed relationship that has been confirmed by an act of marriage. The gender of the individuals DOES NOT MATTER, they are humans being denies basic human rights to chose the person they wish to spend the rest of their life with.
Unless an appeal can overturn this decision it looks like the couple will have to live in separate countries or face losing the medical support that Bradford currently received. A difficult situation and one that should be highlighted as an example of how wrong this type of discrimination and close-minded bigotry really is.
Knowledge abuot the pay gap does not surprise me. The "degree" of difference does, yes, pun intended. the chart highlights this fairly dramatically, taken from this blog with link to original publication (http://kaysteiger.com/). Other images are taken from the document, which can be found in PDF at the following link (http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/collegepayoff-complete.pdf).
Women have to have a PhD to earn as much as a man with a Bachelor's degree. These data only include those who have worked full time, when time off work to raise children or due to disability is taken into account there is an even greater difference, at all educational levels but especially at the lowest level. A 90% difference!
the differences in wages are not just restricted to gender, however. Race, also, shows large differences.
It seems there remains a lot of work to be done towards greater equality between race and gender with regard to wages, and this is certainly not a problem restricted to the USA. I wonder how much relates to differences in approaches to work, such as asking for higher wages (http://www.guardian.co.uk/) and how much is down to discrimination. Either way, there is still a gap that needs addressing, although I am not entirely sure how one wuold go about doing that.
I encountered my pet peeve earlier today while debating on one of the websites I frequent. Refering to England when you mean the UK is incorrect. Defending your use by claiming that the majority of citizens of the USA believe the two are synonymous is also incorrect.
The United Kingdom = Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Great Britain = England, Scotland and Wales.
The UK is a sovereign state and a country. England, Scotland and Wales are also countries in their own rights, incorporated into the United Kingdom. We use English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish depending on which part of the UK we are from, although we can also use British (refering to Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
Stop using England to refer to the whole of the UK. It is as incorrect as saying California when you mean the whole of the USA.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!