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The Occupy Movement's Enthusiasm and Contempt for Democracy
Following Julian Sanchez's lead, I've argued that now that the Occupy movement has succeeded in shining a spotlight on its primary concerns -- rising inequality, political corruption, and debt peonage -- Occupiers and their allies now ought to pull up stakes, give up their whimsically undemocratic semi-privatization of public spaces, and endeavor to reform public policy through the democratic institutions established to make the collective determination of binding public rules legitimate. Moving on to seek reform through established democratic channels would require giving up the insolent and frankly disrespectful presumption that these often radically left-wing congregations somehow represent not only a majority of Americans, but 99% of them. It would require Occupiers to square up to the fact that their movement's implicit ideology is an ideology, and a minority ideology at that -- just one among our society's many rival moral and political worldviews. The intransigence of the Occupy movement suggests an unwillingness among its numbers to take seriously the fact of pluralism, and the corollary impossibility of consensus, which makes majoritarian democratic procedures necessary in the first place.
The replies I've most often heard to this line of argument are (a) that America's democratic institutions are too corrupt, too far gone to serve in the quest for progressive social change, and (b) that agitating for social and political change through the sorts of public protest and civil disobedience the Occupy movement are engaged in is a kind of democratic action.
Shawn Gude makes a case for (b) in this thoughtful post replying to Julian and me. Let's start here:
Parliamentary bargaining and cerebral discussions have their place—indeed, I wouldn’t blog at the League if I thought otherwise. But agitation outside the ballot box or the walls of Congress is a necessary antecedent to social change. As Howard Zinn felicitously phrased it, it’s “that healthy commotion that has always attended the growth of justice.” ...
To democratic minimalists like Sanchez and Wilkinson, democracy is electoral politics. Citizen participation means voting, if one is so inclined. Enhancing citizen power is gratuitous. But this is exactly the kind of narrow, elite-enhancing conception of democracy that the Occupy movement so clearly eschews. What many occupiers do seek is a more vibrant democracy in which corrupt influences don’t dictate policy and average citizens can meaningfully influence the forces and decisions that shape their lives.
I won't presume to speak for Julian, but I don't believe either of us said or implied that agitation or protest is not often a necessary antecedent to social and political change. The function of democratic rule-making procedures is to reflect public opinion, not to change it. And no one thinks the proximate cause of public opinion is the sort of cerebral discussion we're having here. Of course rallies, protests, letter-writing campaigns, sit-ins -- all manner of Zinn's "healthy commotion" -- help shape the inputs to formal decisionmaking. We couldn't do without it. So I happily affirm (b). It's perfectly consistent with my argument.
For my part, I'm glad OWS came along. I'm glad it's drawn a bunch of young people into political engagement, changed a bunch of people's opinions about important subjects, and refocused the public debate about the direction of this country. Moreover, I happen to like commotion, whether or not it's healthy. It makes life more interesting. And I've got an anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide. When it comes down to a crowd of people who haven't done anything really wrong versus the cops, I'm reflexively against the cops. That said, my idiosyncratic preferences are hardly a reliable guide to the nature of a decent liberal social order. So, as much as I might love commotions generally, and unauthorized camping specifically, at a certain point you've got to ask whether an ongoing commotion really continues to be healthy. The Occupy movement's commotion served a healthy purpose, but that's done. It's not so healthy anymore.
Of course, "healthy" can mean several things in this context. As I pointed out in my Economist post, public attitudes toward the Occupy movement have gone south. I think the evidence supports the proposition that keeping up the camping is counterproductive, unhealthy if you will, for the Occupy movement. And I don't think it's hard to understand why the Occupiers have so swiftly lost anything resembling a populist mandate. Like I've said, the movement is audaciously presumptuous, claiming to represent "the people", even when most people don't want anything to do with it. In many cities (but by no means everywhere), the Occupiers are violating local laws and ordinances put in place by "the people" through ordinary democratic means. They are not only asserting de facto property rights over public spaces, but are creating significant public expense at a time when municipalities are stretched thin. It's not surprising that many citizens resent this, and it's hard to see the strategic upside of aggravating people further.
Occupiers are quick to point to the proud tradition of civil disobedience in the name of justice, as Gude does, again citing Howard Zinn. Yet the Occupy movement has failed to communicate adequately to the general public exactly what specific injustices their defiance of law is supposed to protest, or what measures would be adequate to remove their grounds for civil disobedience. According to most plausible theories of civil disobedience, clear communication of specific grounds for protest and specific demands for reform are necessary for an unlawful act to count as legitimate civil disobedience. This implies that most Illegal Occupy encampments don't count as civil disobedience at all. They're just illegal encampments full of very self-righteous people who may or may not be right about the unspecified things they are upset about.
This gets directly to the contention that the Occupy movement fails to take pluralism seriously. I might be quite sure that I stand for justice, that I am on the right side of history. But the intensity of my confidence doesn't give the public, or their duly appointed official agents, any reason at all to tolerate my refusal to comply with local laws determined by a presumably legitimate democratic process, especially when I won't communicate my reasons for noncompliance. I owe others an explanation of why I'm so sure I 'm right, or at least why the public rule I'm breaking ought not be considered binding in this instance. A load of vague handwaving rhetoric about how the whole system is crooked won't do. I need to offer specific reasons others can see from their own perspectives to have some merit. If I can't manage to do that, then I should either stop publicly flouting the public rule, or stop expecting that I be treated as a special case immune from the normal enforcement of laws.
None of this is to say that cops should beat people up, or steal or ruin their property, or spray them in the face with toxic substances. I think a lot of the police violence we've seen recently is criminal, in the moral sense, and that it ought to provide grounds for successful criminal and civil complaints. America certainly doesn't suffer from hesitancy to lock people away, or to bring lawsuits. Quite the contrary. But there really are too few cops in jail, too few cops working off steep civil judgments. In any case, the police have discretion. Municipal governments have discretion. And they ought to exercise it prudently and humanely. That said, as a general matter, it's not healthy for communities to indefinitely tolerate large-scale disregard for the law. That communicates, among other unhealthy things, contempt for democracy, as it is popularly understood.
The Occupy movement is ... concerned with reshaping popular conceptions of democracy and citizen participation. ...
After facilitating at a general assembly several weeks back, one of my best friends received a message from a participant thanking him for the empowering experience. Even in the “world’s greatest democracy,” she had never felt as engaged in the democratic process. At a recent Occupy DSM statement of principles working group meeting, one member said he never dreamed of trying to solve the world’s problems. He said it partly in jest, but these anecdotes get to the heart of what I think the Occupy movement is all about: augmenting agency and correcting deep societal power imbalances.
That's really wonderful. But why can't Occupiers meet up in a church basement, or check out a room at the public library like everybody else? This sort of meet-up to chat about heady things, to solve all the world's problems in a comfortably multi-purpose institutional setting, maybe with danishes and bad coffee, is the bread and butter of the authentic pre-electoral democratic process. If building a little model society, a little pocket of utopia, is really they way to go, then why can't the Occupiers practice participatory democracy on a friendly farmer's plot and make a documentary about how awesome it is? Their reason why not, I freely speculate, is that none of these options puts the Occupiers' favorite ideological conception of democracy and citizen participation (or of agency and societal power imbalance) right in folks' faces in a way they can't easily avoid. Which is to say, from the Occupiers' perspective, the reason they need to be allowed to camp indefinitely, in defiance of the law (where they are in defiance of the law), is that otherwise people won't be forced to confront how right they are about everything. Listening to some Occupiers, you get the sense that they think participatory egalitarian democracy is somehow catching. If you see it, you're going to want in, for sure. And once you're in, well, then it's all over, friend. You've caught social justice fever! But how is the fever supposed to spread to the general population if these modest bustling colonies exhibiting the inspiring virtues of true democratic community are only allowed where they are not unwanted? Camping and deliberating and participating democratically together on somebody's back forty, rather than in peoples' way, is a less empowering experience. It's too clearly LARPing.
Think about an analogous case with a contrary ideological valence. Many gun-owners have extremely strong views about their God-given right to carry guns around in public -- in parks, on the streets, at public swiming pools, in public schools, on and on. Many of them even sincerely think public gun-toting augments agency and corrects deep societal power imbalances. Now, in many cities and towns the local population has voted against public gun-toting, despite the forceful case to be made for it. It may be true that if we were all to witness what really happens when gun-owners carry their guns everywhere, our objections to people carrying guns to junior-high football games would dissipate, and agency would be augmented, societal power balanced, etc. But that putative fact (just suppose -- a lot of people believe it), together with my unflagging conviction in my right to bear arms everywhere doesn't justify my decision to carry a Glock to my parent-teacher meeting anyway. It just doesn't. I've got no good excuse when the cops show up in perspiring Miss Peabody's classroom to arrest me. If I want to get the law changed, I've got to convince as many people as it takes to change it. That's how it works. It's a good system.
In the face of this reality, the most democratic, discourse-shifting left-wing protest movement in years is now being implored to funnel all its aspirations into a moribund, perverted political process.
This is a shift to argument (a), that our democracy is too broken to bother with. If true, (a) really does overthrow my argument. But really? There's no point in running for city council? For county recorder? For the state senate? I don't believe it and I don't think Gude believes it either. I bet he voted in November, and I bet he's prepared to do it again. Why? Anyway, if the political process is so moribund and perverted, how is all this discourse-shifting supposed to eventually change public policy? A coup? A revolution? When decadent Late Capitalism finally collapses from the weight of its internal contradictions, the participatory democrats will rush in to fill the power vacuum?
Maybe the idea is that if we continue to accommodate the Occupiers' quasi-privatization of our city's parks, eventually the discourse, and thus public opinion, will shift so far to the left that America will have been rendered once again safe for mundane voting-booth democracy, at which point the decent people, the justice-minded people, will be ushered into office and seize the commanding heights. The problem's not voting-booth democracy, per se, it's just too early. Well, again, I think continued camping hurts the prospects of the left more than it helps. I'd like to know why it is Gude thinks it's still helping his cause at this point. Is it that the camps are producing a promising crop of highly motivated activists bound to go on to do great things, but that it's too early for the harvest, and so the bounty of activist energy will go unrealized if the tents are packed and folks go home, or to someone's large backyard? I'd really like to understand what Occupy folks have in mind about the way this works out.
But don't let's forget about pluralism. If it's true that Occupy's brand of strategic, coordinated, not-really legit civil disobedience can reshape the space of the politically possible, what do you suppose the gun nuts ought to do?
[Photo credit: rikomatic @ flickr]
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
A new study finds surprising evidence of the self-evolution of urban foxes.
- A study from the University of Glasgow finds urban foxes evolved differently compared to rural foxes.
- The skulls of the urban foxes are adapted to scavenging for food rather than hunting it.
- The evolutionary changes correspond to Charles Darwin's "domestication syndrome."
How much can living in the city change you? If you were an urban fox, you could be evolving yourself to a whole new stage and becoming more like a dog, according to a fascinating new study.
Researchers compared skulls from rural foxes around London with foxes who lived inside the city and found important variations. Rural foxes showed adaptation for speed and hunting after quick, small prey, while urban fox skulls exhibited changes that made it easier for them to scavenge, looking through human refuse for food, rather than chasing it. Their snouts were shorter and stronger, making it easier to open packages and chew up leftovers. They also have smaller brains, not meant for hunting but for interacting with stationary food sources, reports Science magazine.
Interestingly, there was much similarity found between the male and female skulls of the urban foxes.
The observed changes correspond to what Charles Darwin called the "domestication syndrome," comprised of traits that go along with an animal's transition from being wild, to tamed, to domesticated.
The study was led by Kevin Parsons, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Glasgow.
"What's really fascinating here is that the foxes are doing this to themselves," Parsons told the BBC. "This is the result of foxes that have decided to live near people, showing these traits that make them look more like domesticated animals."
The researchers are not suggesting you should go out and get a fox as a house-pet just yet. But they are seeing the evolutionary process taking place that's moving the urban foxes along the path towards becoming more like dogs and cats, explained the study's co-author Dr. Andrew Kitchener from National Museums Scotland.
A fox beneath a tree in Greenwich park, south east London on May 14, 2020.
Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP
"Some of the basic environmental aspects that may have occurred during the initial phases of domestication for our current pets, like dogs and cats, were probably similar to the conditions in which our urban foxes and other urban animals are living today," said Kitchener. "So, adapting to life around humans actually primes some animals for domestication."
The specimen came from the National Museum Scotland's collection of around 1,500 fox skulls.
You can read the study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
A fox at the LV County Championship, Division two match between Surrey and Derbyshire at The Brit Oval on April 9, 2010 in London, England.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Is Bitcoin akin to 'digital gold'?
- In October, PayPal announced that it would begin allowing users to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies.
- Other major fintech companies—Square, Fidelity, SoFi—have also recently begun investing heavily in cryptocurrencies.
- While prices are volatile, many investors believe cryptocurrencies are a relatively safe bet because blockchain technology will prove itself over the long term.
Presentation slide from Sanja Kon's presentation on the evolution of money at 2020 Web Summit
Credit: Sanja Kon<p>The move came shortly after the payments company Square invested $50 million into Bitcoin, and after Fidelity announced that it was opening a Bitcoin fund into which qualified purchasers could invest <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-26/fidelity-launches-inaugural-bitcoin-fund-for-wealthy-investors" target="_blank">(minimum investment: $100,000)</a>. Together, this institutional backing might have something to do with Bitcoin's recent surge back to near its 2017 price peak of $19,783. (Bitcoin is listed at 19,384.30 as of Dec. 3.)<br></p>
Presentation slide from Sanja Kon's presentation on the evolution of money at 2020 Web Summit
Credit: Sanja Kon<p>But more importantly, it suggests cryptocurrencies might soon have the opportunity to prove themselves in real-world use cases. After all, skeptics have long doubted the ability of cryptocurrencies to go mainstream as a form of everyday payment. But people seem increasingly comfortable with digital payment systems.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The entire world is going to come into digital first," Schulman said at Web Summit, adding that PayPal's services already go hand-in-hand with cryptocurrencies. "As we thought about it, digital wallets are a natural complement to digital currencies. We've got over 360 million digital wallets and we need to embrace cryptocurrencies."</p><p>Sanja Kon, vice president of global partnerships at the cryptocurrency payments processor company UTRUST, also spoke at Web Summit about the increasing adoption of digital payments:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Physical cash is becoming more and more obsolete. And the next step in the evolution is digital currency."</p><p>Kon noted some of the inherent advantages of cryptocurrencies, namely ownership. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"For many people, this is really the main benefit of cryptocurrency: Users owning cryptocurrencies are able to control how they spend their money without dealing with any intermediary authority like a bank or a government, for example," Kon said, adding that there are no bank fees associated with cryptocurrencies, and that international transaction fees are significantly lower than wire transfers of fiat currency.</p><p>Kon said cryptocurrencies have unique growth opportunities in areas where people aren't integrated into modern banking systems:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"With cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with the use of just a smartphone and access to internet, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies can be available to populations of people and users without access to the traditional banking system."</p>
Bitcoin as 'digital gold'<p>Still, it could take years for people to start using cryptocurrencies for everyday purchases on a large scale. Despite this, many cryptocurrency advocates see digital currencies, particularly Bitcoin, as a way to store value—digital gold, essentially.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I don't think Bitcoin is going to be used as a transactional currency anytime in the next five years," billionaire investor Mike Novogratz recently told <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-23/novogratz-says-bitcoin-is-digital-gold-not-a-currency-for-now?srnd=markets-vp" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a>. "Bitcoin is being used as a store of value. [...] "Bitcoin as a gold, as digital gold, is just going to keep going higher. More and more people are going to want it as some portion of their portfolio."</p><p>There are obvious parallels between gold and Bitcoin: Both are mined, do not degrade over time, are finite in supply, and aren't directly tied to the value of fiat currency, making them <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gold-inflation/gold-as-an-inflation-hedge-well-sort-of-idUSKCN1GD516" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">relatively invulnerable to inflation</a>. The obvious objection is that the price of Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, is far more volatile than gold.</p><p>But for investors who believe the inherent value of cryptocurrency technology will prove itself over the long term, these price fluctuations are just bumps on the long road to the future of currency. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's no longer a debate if crypto is a thing, if Bitcoin is an asset, if the blockchain is going to be part of the financial infrastructure," Novogratz said. "It's not if, it's when, and so every single company has to have a plan now."</p>
Singapore has approved the sale of a lab-grown meat product in an effort to secure its food supplies against disease and climate change.
Approve for your dining pleasure<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd3f57f8baf14e654812d30a309d1f17"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/307gysA18_E?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><a href="https://www.ju.st/en-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eat Just</a>, a company that produces animal-alternative food products, announced the news earlier this week. In what the company is calling a world first, Singapore has given it permission for a small-scale commercial launch of their GOOD Meat brand product line. For the initial run, the cultured chicken meat will be sold as an ingredient in "chicken bites."</p><p>"Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system. I'm sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe," Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201201006251/en/Eat-Just-Granted-World%E2%80%99s-First-Regulatory-Approval-for-Cultured-Meat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said in a release</a>.</p><p>According to the release, Eat Just underwent an extensive safety review by the Singapore Food Agency. It provided officials "details on the purity, identity and stability of chicken cells during the manufacturing process, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process which demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met quality controls and a rigorous food safety monitoring system." It also demonstrated the consistency of its production by running more than 20 cycles in its 1,200-liter bioreactors.</p><p>While Eat Just did not offer details on its propriety process, it likely follows <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24032080-400-accelerating-the-cultured-meat-revolution/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one similar to other lab-grown meats</a>. It starts with muscle cell samples drawn from a living animal. Technicians then isolate stem cells from the sample and culture them <em>in vitro</em>. These cultured stem cells are then placed in a bioreactor, essentially a fermenter for fleshy cells. The bioreactor contains scaffolding materials to keep the growing tissue from falling apart as well as a growth material—the sugars, salts, and other nutrients the tissue needs to grow. As the cells grow, they begin to differentiate into the muscle, fat, and other cells of meat tissue. Once grown, the tissues are formed into a meat product to be shipped to restaurants and supermarkets.</p>
An abattoir abatement?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg2Mjg5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1NDI3N30.AYmFJfWQbPjK-o1IatyFHL-OLjcfXBMmQKYyvz4oT3s/img.jpg?width=980" id="8a82d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="93f824fe4c6f397ab2b65e4665847e71" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A graph showing the number of animals slaughtered in the United States per year from 1961–2018.
Credit: Our World in Data<p>Singapore's approval is an important step in support for clean meats—so-called because they don't require animal slaughter and would likely leave a reduced carbon footprint—but hurdles remain before widespread adoption is possible.</p><p>The most glaring is the price. The first lab-grown hamburger was eaten in London in 2013. <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-23576143" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">It cost roughly $330,000</a>. As with any new technology, investment, iteration, and improved manufacturing will see the price drop substantially and quickly. For comparison, Eat Just's chicken will be priced equivalent to premium chicken.</p><p>Other hurdles include up-scaling production, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00373-w" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the need for further research</a>, and developing techniques to reliably produce in-demand meats such as fish and beef. Finally, not all countries may be as receptive as Singapore. Countries with large, entrenched meat industries may protect this legacy industry through a protracted and difficult regulatory process. Though, the meat industry itself is investing in lab-grown meat. Tyson Foods, for example, has <a href="https://euromeatnews.com/Article-Tyson-Foods-announces-investment-in-clean-meat/697" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">invested in the food-tech startup Memphis Meats</a>, the company that debuted the world's first beef meatball.</p><p>"I would imagine what will happen is the U.S., Western Europe and others will see what Singapore has been able to do, the rigours of the framework that they put together. And I would imagine that they will try to use it as a template to put their own framework together," <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eat-just-singapore/singapore-approves-sale-of-lab-grown-meat-in-world-first-idUSKBN28C06Z" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tetrick told Reuter's during an interview</a>.</p><p>Regardless of the challenges, the demand for meat substitutes is present and growing. In 2020, plant-based substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible foods <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/plant-based-meat" target="_self">gained a significant foothold in supermarkets</a> as meat-packing factories became coronavirus hotspots. The looming threat of climate change has also turned people away from meat as animal products. Livestock production is environmentally taxing and leaves <a href="http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a much larger carbon footprint</a> than grain and vegetable production. </p><p>Then there's the moral concern of animal cruelty. In 2018 alone, 302 million cows, 656 million turkeys, 1.48 billion pigs, and a gob-smacking 68 billion chickens were <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/animals-slaughtered-for-meat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">slaughtered for meat worldwide</a>. And those figures do not include chickens killed in dairy or egg production.</p><p>If brought to scale and widely available, clean meats could become serious competitors to traditional meat. <a href="https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/meat-alternatives" target="_self">One report has even predicted</a> that 60 percent of the meat people eat by 2040 won't come from slaughtered animals. It could be just the thing for people looking for a meat substitute but who find tofurkey as distasteful as, well tofurkey.</p>