Michael Lorrey (
Mon, 27 Jul 1998 12:39:59 -0400

Joe E. Dees wrote:

> Date sent: Sun, 26 Jul 1998 13:26:42 -0700
> From: Damien Broderick <>
> >
> > This component of the FAQ needs *excruciating* sensitivity. Almost
> > everyone has a gag reflex at this suggestion. I wonder (dunno if it makes
> > bio-botanical sense) if the suggestion might be better expressed as: if we
> > could design plants and vegetables that include certain animal genes, we
> > might be able to `grow steaks' in the same way we now grow tomatos or
> > lettuces. [If that *doesn't* make sense for energetic reasons, we need to
> > rephrase the brainless cows scenario more delicately.]

Due to thousands of years of breeding, cows already have one of, if not the smallest brain/'body weight ratios of all mammals, so they are already effectively lobotomized. THey have about the minimum brain mass necessary to be what they are.

A more effective thing to do to reduce the 'uck' factor is to engineer the cow to be more ugly, thus reducing the 'cute' factor from which the 'yuck' factor is derived. Most animal rightists, even the most casual ones, are usually motivated to avoid eating animals because of what we hunters call the 'Bambi Syndrome', and this is why they usually focus their efforts on saving and protecting 'cute' animals, while they do little for ugly animals. You don't get many protesters trying to protect the Great White Shark.....

> What about an animal version of hydroponics; simply growing the
> muscle tissue in a nutrient culture. Surely a more easily grown
> version could be genetically engineered. Besides, brainless cattle
> couldn't graze, anyway. It would be inefficient to grow all the other
> cow constituents (hide, organs, skeleton, etc.) just to obtain a steak.

A much more efficient method of producing meat is to breed rabbits, but they obviously are much farther up the 'cute' scale than cows are. Rabbits reproduce far faster, and produce much healthier meat than cattle, and especially important for space applications, they don't take up much space. The rabbit was selected by O'Neil's space colony research project for protein supply.

Mike Lorrey