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As George Monbiot points out, technology will save us

Summary:
We’re perhaps not quite as gape mouthed in awe as George Monbiot is here on the idea of lab or vat grown food:It sounds like a miracle, but no great technological leaps were required. In a commercial lab on the outskirts of Helsinki, I watched scientists turn water into food. Through a porthole in a metal tank, I could see a yellow froth churning. It’s a primordial soup of bacteria, taken from the soil and multiplied in the laboratory, using hydrogen extracted from water as its energy source. When the froth was siphoned through a tangle of pipes and squirted on to heated rollers, it turned into a rich yellow flour. This flour is not yet licensed for sale. But the scientists, working for a company called Solar Foods, were allowed to give me some while filming our documentary Apocalypse Cow.

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We’re perhaps not quite as gape mouthed in awe as George Monbiot is here on the idea of lab or vat grown food:

It sounds like a miracle, but no great technological leaps were required. In a commercial lab on the outskirts of Helsinki, I watched scientists turn water into food. Through a porthole in a metal tank, I could see a yellow froth churning. It’s a primordial soup of bacteria, taken from the soil and multiplied in the laboratory, using hydrogen extracted from water as its energy source. When the froth was siphoned through a tangle of pipes and squirted on to heated rollers, it turned into a rich yellow flour.

This flour is not yet licensed for sale. But the scientists, working for a company called Solar Foods, were allowed to give me some while filming our documentary Apocalypse Cow. I asked them to make me a pancake: I would be the first person on Earth, beyond the lab staff, to eat such a thing. They set up a frying pan in the lab, mixed the flour with oat milk, and I took my small step for man. It tasted … just like a pancake.

But pancakes are not the intended product. Such flours are likely soon to become the feedstock for almost everything.

That this specific adventure will succeed, well, that’s where we’re less than that awed. That something like this will we’re certain of. As with near every other invention we’ve had over the millennia we’re at about the point where it’s simply going to happen. All those supporting technologies are there and someone is going to crack the roll out of industrial sized applications. There’s very rarely a single point for an invention, rather more a miasma, a cloud, of possibility at this time which someone then crystalises out.

The company itself doesn’t say that this is a genetically modified product and even if this one isn’t then the probability is at least 1 that others occupying the same technological space will be.

Which is interesting, don’t you think? We’ve now one of the arch environmentalists making the same claim we have been for decades. Technology will save us and it’s highly likely to be a GM one too.

No no, that’s OK. No need to pat us on the back for being so perceptive. But we would like you to ascribe a little more weight to what we currently say about the future as a result of our having been, once again, proven correct.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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