Activists Queasy over Test Tube Meat News worth an honorable mention, including the not-so-delicious conundrum of so-called "in-vitro" protein experiments.
NPR logo

Activists Queasy over Test Tube Meat

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Activists Queasy over Test Tube Meat

Activists Queasy over Test Tube Meat

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Hey, hey, welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We're always online at We've done the serious stuff, Mike, we've talked about Army recruiting. We have talked about dental readiness.


That's the big front-page item in dentistry news that you can't live without. We've covered them.

MARTIN: We've covered that. It is now that time in the show where we talk about the more obscure stories.

PESCA: Right, not like dental readiness.

MARTIN: Yeah, not like dental readiness.

PESCA: Which, you know, is above-the-fold stuff. This is the more below-the-fold or maybe inside-the-paper stuff.

MARTIN: Things that may delight or disturb you. We put them together in a segment we call The Ramble.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: You're up first.

PESCA: It's funny when you said Ramble, the music changed. Like they knew what we were thinking.

MARTIN: I know. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, aka PETA, is offering a million-dollar prize for the first person who can produce, quote, "commercially-viable quantities of in-vitro meat." A story in the New York Times reports the idea is not new. Scientists have been trying for a while to grow tissue cultures that could replace farm-raised animals for the meat industry.

Get it? You can eat your meat, but not slaughter your animals. A recent conference in Norway on the issue gave supporters some inspiration, though I understand the catering is lacking. Besides saving animals from the slaughterhouse, scientists say meat grown in the test tube conserves land, feed, and reduces the risk of disease, but apparently not everyone in PETA was inspired.

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk told the New York Times that offering up the prize money caused a near civil war inside the animal rights group. One staffer reportedly said they'd rather promote eating road kill than in-vitro animal tissue. With the proper amounts of A1 Steak Sauce and ketchup, but I digress.

But Newkirk takes disagreements in stride. She says the new technology would mean fewer animals suffer and calls in-vitro meat a godsend. It's exactly the same debate as the faux fur debate where some people say, hey, it's not really fur, we're not killing animals and the other people say, why would you want to glamorize the wearing of fur?

MARTIN: It's all the same, same arguments, different story. I'm going to talk to you about a story about new eye implants, which is giving blind people the ability to see light, shapes, and movements. Bionic eyes, like science fiction, but it's real. The first trials of the bionic eye have just begun with two patients in London who had the surgery last week.

And the British paper, the Telegraph, reports on the technique in a story out today, the patients had these tiny implants attached to the back of the eye, then they wear glasses with a tiny camera that transmits a signal to the implant. Now it's supposed to offer some vision for people who have intact optic nerves, but they lost their sight because of other conditions, other things.

PESCA: Right, they have to have an intact nerve.

MARTIN: They have to have an intact nerve. That's the kicker.

PESCA: It's not science fiction. It's science faction.

MARTIN: It's science faction. Three more patients are scheduled to have the surgery. There you go, bionic eyes.

PESCA: That's cool stuff. I'd like to see a TV version of that so we could see what it looks like.

MARTIN: Oh, my gosh, my brother had a cataract surgery, and we watched the surgery. It is disgusting.

PESCA: No, I mean, like, if they could do a representation of what it would look like, maybe these people were totally blind beforehand, and this is what they see like afterward.

MARTIN: That's a good idea.

PESCA: But disgusting is also compelling.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: The presidential candidates took their fight into the ring last night, literally, at the World Wrestling Entertainment's Live Monday Night Raw. They threw down the gauntlet.

Senator HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (Democrat, New York): Hi, I'm Hillary Clinton. But tonight, in honor of the WWE, you can call me Hilrod. This election is starting to feel a lot like king of the ring. The only difference, the last man standing may just be a woman.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois): To the special interest who've been setting the agenda in Washington for far too long, all the forces of division and distraction that have stopped us from making progress for the American people, I've got one question. Do you smell what Barack is cooking?

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): Looks like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to settle their differences in the ring. Well, that's fine with me. But let me tell you. If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man. Come November, it'll be game over. And what are you going to do when John McCain and the McCainiacs run wild on you?

PESCA: Yeah, exactly. You know Hillary was like, don't you think we should have a king of the ring reference in here? Because when I watch, that's what I watch for. And McCain was like, we've got the Hulkamaniacs. The candidates' appearances are being used to promote Smackdown Your Vote, the WWE's voter registration drive.

We thought we'd share a few facts we found about this venue where the candidates were appearing, WWE. Since 1997, at least 70 pro-wrestlers and 45 younger wrestlers died from ailments linked to steroids, illegal drugs and devastating injuries, according to a USA Today study and follow up.

Two congressional committees were investigating the policies of the WWE and also, we should note the WWE story lines frequently include scantily-clad women wrestlers engaged in matches where the loser gets her head shaved or bra and panty matches where the loser is forced to wear, well, you can guess. It's good to see our politicians associated with this exalted form of entertainment/sports.

MARTIN: A long campaign. It's just getting longer.

PESCA: You've got to reach out. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your Ramble. These stories and more on our website,

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.