Meat, eggs, and dairy products identical in substance to those consumed today, but made without raising or slaughtering animals, are quickly becoming a reality. Technology is rapidly advancing to allow discrete animal parts and byproducts-- such as chicken breasts, ham shanks, egg whites and milk-- to be grown in a laboratory setting. This technology is considered to be a type of tissue engineering which falls under the umbrella of “cellular agriculture,” and is approaching the point where cellular meat, dairy and eggs may be available to the public. To the extent that cellular products would replace inhumane, conventionally produced animal products, this presents an opportunity to significantly reduce the overall suffering of farm animals.
The ASPCA recognizes the potential of cellular meat, dairy and eggs to greatly reduce the number of animals used for food production, and to incentivize improvement in the lives of those remaining. We acknowledge, however, that this technology is still in the development phase, leaving some animal welfare impacts unknown, such as the extent to which farm animals would be used to cultivate cells, as well as whether and how many animals might be used for further scientific research. Beyond animal welfare, there are also various questions regarding cellular agriculture’s implications on human populations and the environment, among other issues. We urge advances in cellular technology and research to address these outstanding questions. We also encourage the adoption of government policies ensuring the welfare of any animals used to develop these products. Additionally, we encourage research into other potential benefits and challenges of cellular meat technology, so that benefits to billions of farmed animals can be realized as soon as possible.