Someday soon, meat could be one of the most animal-friendly products out there.
Most of us associate PETA with animals, as opposed to straight environmentalism. But of course the two are related. PETA is offering $1 million to the first group to develop and successfully market synthetic meat. In this case, they're looking for chicken.
We're not talking chicken-flavored tofu here. We're talking about chicken-flavored chicken -- meat that looks, feels and tastes just like the stuff at the meat counter right now, only grown in the lab using chicken stem cells. And PETA's only going to pay up if it tastes just like the chicken meat from an actual chicken, because it has to be marketable on a large scale.
The primary motivation, of course, is humane treatment of animals. PETA is opposed to the methods of raising and slaughtering animals used in the livestock-farming industry. But there's another benefit to the prize: curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. Livestock farming accounts for 9 percent of all global CO2 emissions from human activity, and 65 percent of the nitrous oxide [source: UN]. All totaled, the meat industry accounts for more greenhouse gases than the transportation sector [source: UN].
To win the $1 million, contestants have to sell the synthetic meat commercially, and at a price comparable to naturally grown meat, in at least 10 U.S. states by June 30, 2012.
Next up: Who can save the world using tools already on hand?