Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 85–107 | Cite as

Moral Steaks? Ethical Discourses of In Vitro Meat in Academia and Australia



The profile and possibilities of in vitro meat are rapidly expanding, creating new ethical conundrums about how to approach this nascent biotechnology. The outcomes of these ethical debates will shape the future viability of this technology and its acceptability for potential consumers. In this paper we focus on how in vitro meat is being ethically constructed in academic literatures and contrast this with discourses evident in the mainstream print media. The academic literature is analysed to identify a typology of ethical discourses, ordered from the most common to least expressed. We then apply this typology to investigate the frames present in Australian print media reportage on the topic. In the academic literature, discourses relating to in vitro meat’s promised environmental, animal welfare and food security benefits are most prominent. In contrast, ontological struggles over its ‘nature’ have emerged as the dominant feature in the Australian print media. Although these spaces of engagement evidence decidedly different discursive trends, ethical discourses critical of in vitro meat’s wider socio-cultural ramifications are currently under-represented in both. This paper therefore calls for critical scholars to move beyond the narrow, presumptive framings of in vitro meat as a technological remedy for our consumptive ills, to more seriously engage with the ethical consequences of this new form of food.


In vitro meat Cultured meat Biotechnology Bioethics Discourse analysis Australia 



The authors would like to thank Donna Houston and Sandie Suchet-Pearson for their many useful and constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environment and GeographyMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia
  2. 2.St IvesAustralia

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