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Moral steaks? Ethical discourses of in vitro meat in academia and Australia

By T. Dilworth, A. McGregor

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Abstract

The profile and possibilities of in vitro meat are rapidly expanding, creating new ethical conundrums about how to approach this nascent biotechnology. The outcomes of these ethical debates will shape the future viability of this technology and its acceptability for potential consumers. In this paper we focus on how in vitro meat is being ethically constructed in academic literatures and contrast this with discourses evident in the mainstream print media. The academic literature is analysed to identify a typology of ethical discourses, ordered from the most common to least expressed. We then apply this typology to investigate the frames present in Australian print media reportage on the topic. In the academic literature, discourses relating to in vitro meat's promised environmental, animal welfare and food security benefits are most prominent. In contrast, ontological struggles over its 'nature' have emerged as the dominant feature in the Australian print media. Although these spaces of engagement evidence decidedly different discursive trends, ethical discourses critical of in vitro meat's wider socio-cultural ramifications are currently under-represented in both. This paper therefore calls for critical scholars to move beyond the narrow, presumptive framings of in vitro meat as a technological remedy for our consumptive ills, to more seriously engage with the ethical consequences of this new form of food.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 85-107
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
Publisher Springer
DOI 10.1007/s10806-014-9522-y
Language English
Author Address Department of Environment and Geography, Macquarie University, Building E7A Herring Road, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia.tasmin.dilworth@students.mq.edu.au andrew.mcgregor@mq.edu.au
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Tags
  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal welfare
  3. APEC countries
  4. Australasia
  5. Australia
  6. Bioethics
  7. Biotechnology
  8. Case Report
  9. Classification
  10. Commonwealth of Nations
  11. Contamination
  12. Countries
  13. Developed countries
  14. Food economics
  15. Food policy
  16. Food safety
  17. Meat.
  18. Meat production
  19. Media
  20. Oceania
  21. OECD countries
  22. peer-reviewed
  23. products
  24. residues
  25. sustainability
  26. Telecommunications
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  1. peer-reviewed