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Eating money. August 11, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

—Based on a Cree saying

This Cree warning of the horrors of environmental destruction in the service of human greed is certainly powerful. But these days, it’s apparently not true. People collectively known as “biohackers” have set out to prove that farms, plants and animals aren’t necessary to feed people—all we need are labs.

The first of these to make headlines were the creators of Soylent, a chemical concoction with the appearance and flavor of sludge, named ironically for “Soylent Green,” the only food given a utopian/dystopian population in the novel of the same name. In the novel, Soylent Green turns out to be made from dead people. In the lab, Soylent is composed of a cocktail of chemicals, vitamins and minerals that support human life. It was developed by a tech creator who was sick of making runs to Costco for corndogs and the like. Surely there was a faster way to glog down nutrients so you could concentrate on things that mattered, like creating new video games?

Today, a new group of biohackers have made headlines. They’re not trying to make glop for techno-nerds. They’re just trying to bypass the agricultural process to make meat and dairy products in labs. The meat producers use stem cells to grow lab meats, so that animals no longer need to be slaughtered. The non-dairy people, with names like Muufri (moo-free, get it?!), are more aligned with Soylent, making their dairy products from lab-concocted chemical combinations. Both groups tout how “clean,” how sterile their production tanks are compared to farms.

And both Soylent and the Muufri groups can proudly claim to be vegan—no animals are harmed, or used in any way, in their products. One reviewer noted that, if these lab-grown products were adopted by the public, animals would be so happy because they weren’t being milked or raised for meat, even on free-range organic farms. Well, no. If there were no agricultural reason to raise them, they would be allowed to go extinct. An extinct animal is not a happy animal. If someone asked you if you’d prefer a year or more enjoying a free life on open pasture under the sun, or never being born at all, what would you choose? There are plenty of non-meat, non-dairy options for vegans now that don’t involve the extermination of domesticated animals.

Of course, the parent of this trend is GMO crops, the Monsanto-led monsters that create a chemical soup of toxic herbicides, then create genetically modified crops that can withstand them, knowing all along that weeds will gain resistance to their chemical soup so they can sell ever-more toxic herbicide combos to the farmers who now depend on them and their GMO-modified seeds.

The lab rats who “biohack” pseudo-foods would be the last to identify themselves with Monsanto, though the inventor of Soylent has said that his product was the ultimate anti-organic food, being 100% chemical. Yet they fail to see the weakness in their system: The giant food price increases that could come if market giants bought their nifty startups, the market monopolies that could come if their techno-foods drove real food out of business, the end of actual food, real vegetables, real fruits, real cheese, real flavor. And then, if they were co-opted by some evil monster like Monsanto, the end of the world. “Buy our monstrous, lab-produced food or else!” Soylent Green is coming.

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