Report Says Chicken Tumors Not a Threat to Humans?

Report Says Chicken Tumors Not a Threat to Humans?

( – Thanks to recent advancements in biotech engineering, laboratory-grown meat is about to start hitting grocery store shelves. Three start-ups have raised more than a billion dollars to achieve that goal, and Upside Foods recently cleared the first hurdle to obtaining FDA approval to begin bringing its lab-grown chicken to marketplaces. However, there’s a catch — consumers may end up eating the biological equivalent of chicken tumors, raising questions about potential health risks to humans.

On February 7, Bloomberg Businessweek published a stunning exposé detailing potential marketing and sales problems associated with the lab-grown meat industry. Under certain conditions, companies like Upside Foods grow animal cells in huge stainless-steel drums using meat cultures.

However, normal meat cells don’t divide in perpetuity, potentially side-lining the mass production of lab-made meat. Typically, they only multiply a few dozen times before they quit dividing or die. To work around this problem, companies have “quietly” started using “immortalized [kept alive] cells,” a standard staple of research facilities, according to Bloomberg — but not in foods.

Those cells provide a potentially limitless capacity for growing meat, but there’s a catch. Technically, those cells are “precancerous” at best and, at worst, “fully cancerous.”

Bloomberg reported that “prominent cancer researchers” said that since those cells originate from an animal source, they can’t give cancer to humans. According to the report, “it’s essentially impossible” for the cells to replicate themselves inside a human host.

But there’s a second catch. Some experts say there isn’t enough research currently available on the consumption of immortalized cells to know their long-term effects.

Robert Weinberg, a pioneering biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims a person could “eat malignant chicken tumors by the bucketload” and not get cancer. But, he also readily concedes that the actual test is to wait 20 to 30 years to see if people developed cancer at an abnormally high rate. Likewise, companies currently working with lab-grown meat don’t have any data backing up their claims that eating immortalized meat is safe.

On the plus side, Bloomberg predicted the meat industry would use the potential health risks of eating cancerous cells as a marketing weapon against companies like Upside Foods. So, the public may ultimately decline to purchase lab-grown meat. In the meantime, let the buyer beware!

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