In a completely puzzling turn of events, Bloomberg has decided to chastise the lab-grown meat industry's failure to address cancer concerns — because of the fact that there... aren't... any cancer concerns.
Confused? Us too. Let's try that again.
A Bloomberg writer declared that the lab-grown meat industry's failure to risk connecting the word "cancer" to its products, which are mostly still years from hitting shelves, threatens to be the downfall of the industry — despite the fact that the industry has absolutely no reason to address cancer concerns because said concerns are, again, virtually nonexistent, and the products are, again, still many years from getting eaten by any large groups of people.
If it all sounds backward, it's because it is. The argument hinges on the fact that "immortalized cells," a bioengineering marvel that the majority of lab-grown meat companies are using to develop their products, divide — like precancerous and cancerous cells — forever. Which, when intentionally framed in a cancer-y way, sounds pretty cancer-y.
The reality, however, is that scientists have absolutely no reason to believe that they'll cause cancer. In fact, it's probably impossible — an impossibility that Bloomberg directly addresses.
"Don't worry: Prominent cancer researchers tell Bloomberg Businessweek that because the cells aren't human, it's essentially impossible for people who eat them to get cancer from them, or for the precancerous or cancerous cells to replicate inside people at all," it reads. "You'd be better off worrying about the nitrates (linked with cancer) or fecal matter (a source of deadly infections) found in farm-raised meat. And cow tumors sometimes wind up in store-bought ground chuck, too."
All of this is absolutely true! But apparently, according to Bloomberg, "refusing to engage with the issue" — an issue that, once again, is very likely nonexistent — "could ultimately cost cultured meat companies, and maybe the rest of us, too."
"The facts might not matter much if ranchers or other players in the traditional meat industry felt threatened enough to declare a public-relations war," the article continues. "It's all too easy to imagine misleading Fox News chyrons about chicken tumors and cancer burgers."
And, well, sure. That does sound like a Tucker Carlson thing to do. But if skeptics are going to harp on virtually nonexistent cancer risks anyway, why sound the nonexistent alarm bells, only to rush to quiet them?
It's like if scientists announced that an exciting new renewable energy was discovered, explained its benefits, and then told people not to worry because being exposed to the energy definitely won't turn you into Flubber, the green slime goo of "Flubber" fame.
Nobody thought that the energy was going to turn them into Flubber. But, if it really wouldn't turn you into Flubber... why mention it at all?
Twitter, of course, had some critics.
"This is, unquestionably, the worst, dumbest article I've read in a really, really long time," tweeted food journalist and "The Reducetarian Solution" author Brian Kateman. "What in the world is going on in food journalism? Holy hell this is absolute trash."
Couldn't have said it better ourselves.
"The basic argument of the latest attack on cultivated meat is that it sounds kinda cancer-ish," added Canary Media columnist Michael Grunwald. "Also that this 7-year-old industry with products in zero grocery stores worldwide hasn't done long-term studies."
"Scientists say eating beef won't make you moo or crap in the grass," Grunwald continued, "but beef is made of organisms that do just that — why is the industry avoiding the question?"
Hmmm, an interesting question raised by Mr. Grunwald... Bloomberg should probably investigate.
More on lab-grown meat: Scientists Cook Comically Tiny Lab-Grown Hamburger