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article imagePETA Offers $1-Million Prize For First Person to Develop Lab-Grown Chicken

By Chris Hogg     Apr 23, 2008 in Science
It's part contest, part science and definitely a good PR stunt; the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is offering a $1-million prize to the first person who can develop a way to produce meat in a lab without killing any animals.
Digital Journal -- Known for their publicity stunts to raise awareness about animal cruelty, PETA is no stranger to news coverage for different ideas. Whether it's a campaign where a woman strips down to her birthday suit to protest fur or eating meat, or a new contest offering $1 million to the first person to create in vitro meat, PETA gets headlines.
PETA is now offering the million-dollar prize to a scientist who can produce the meat in a lab, and then bring it to market. So what is in vitro meat? PETA explains: "In vitro meat production would use animal stem cells that would be placed in a medium to grow and reproduce. The result would mimic flesh and could be cooked and eaten. Some promising steps have been made toward this technology, but we're still several years away from having in vitro meat be available to the general public."
The group is supporting the technology because they say more than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs and cows are killed in a cruel fashion every year as food for Americans. The organization also does not like the process, describing it as such:
Chickens are drugged to grow so large they often become crippled, mother pigs are confined to metal cages so small they can't move, and fish are hacked apart while still conscious—all to feed America's meat addiction.
PETA says in vitro meat would mean no more suffering for animals, and it would reduce the meat industry's effect on the environment.
Chickens in an industrial coop
Chickens in an industrial coop
Photo by ITamar K.
The contest will give $1 million to the first person able to make in vitro chicken meat, then sell it to the public by June 30, 2012. The rules of the contest say the person must:
• Produce an in vitro chicken-meat product that has a taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken flesh to non-meat-eaters and meat-eaters alike.
• Manufacture the approved product in large enough quantities to be sold commercially, and successfully sell it at a competitive price in at least 10 states.
The in vitro chicken taste and texture will be judged by 10 PETA judges who will sample the chicken after it's fried.
It's a unique idea that animal-lovers will no doubt support and an innovative way to inspire people to come up with alternative food sources. However, it still remains to be seen if people would even eat test-tube chickens or food that doesn't come from an animal.
What are your thoughts?
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