FaithWorld

Religions ask if test-tube burgers allow them to keep the faith

August 9, 2013

(The world’s first lab-grown beef burger is seen after it was cooked at a launch event in west London August 5, 2013. REUTERS/David Parry/pool )

When the world’s first test-tube beef burger was cooked and eaten this week, food critics all asked about its taste. For many Jews, Muslims and Hindus, the first question was whether their faith allowed them to try it.

Religious websites were abuzz with questions and opinions this week after biologist Mark Post of Maastricht University presented his innovation to the media in London on Monday.

Is the lab-created burger kosher?” the Hasidic Jewish movement Chabad Lubavitch asked on its website Chabad.org.

Dietary laws exist in many religions, but came about so long ago that not even their prophets could have imagined a ready-to-fry beef patty grown in-vitro from the stem cells of a cow.

If religious authorities interpret their ancient texts in a way that allows them to give this new food their blessing, now-banned kosher cheeseburgers and Hindu hamburgers, as well as an undisputed method of producing halal meat, could be possible.

Chabad’s Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin wrote the Talmud tells of “miraculous meat” that fell from heaven or was conjured up by rabbis studying a mystic text.

Since it was automatically kosher because it wasn’t from a real animal, this could be a model for test-tube meat.

But he said if the stem cells are real meat, they have to come from a cow slaughtered according to kosher law, which says the animal’s throat must be slit while it is still conscious.

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