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Monday, August 12, 2013

In vitro burgers raise religious questions

Against Slaughtering Cows (Public Domain)
While animal activists are heralding the ethical benefits of in vitro burgers, some religionists are wondering what the doctrinal implications might be of this new scientific development.

For Jews, the question of where these burgers fit within kashrut (kosher) laws is an intriguing one.  Differing viewpoints abound at this point.  In an article for, Yehuda Shurpin explores a few of them. 

He explains that in the Talmud there is a concept called "miraculous meat."  This is either meat that descended from Heaven, or meat that was created by extremely devoted Jews.  It is considered miraculous because "it did not come from a natural-born animal."  Such miraculous meat would not need kosher slaughtering.  Perhaps test-tube burgers could fall into this category.

On the other hand, since the test-tube burgers were cultured in a lab from living animal cells, they might instead fall under the category of "meat that was severed from a live animal."  This latter type of meat is strictly forbidden under kosher law.

Tom Heneghan of Reuters reports that Hindus and Muslims are in quandaries of their own about how to regard in vitro meat.  Abdul Qahir Qamar of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy in Jedda, Saudi Arabia was quoted as saying that this cultured meat would be considered "vegetative" and similar to yogurt and pickles.  However, some Hindus – who consider cows to be sacred - beg to differ with this "vegetative" categorization and shun any kind of beef, in vitro or not.      


Copyright August 12, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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