Good Reads: From lab-grown meat, to solar LED lamps, to Algebra II reconsidered
This week's round-up of Good Reads includes the case for growing meat with stem cells, Thailand's draconian defamation laws, Kazakhstan's new role in the war against terrorism, a lamp that is changing villages in Kenya, and why it really doesn't matter if you don't take Algebra II.
It’s no secret that Americans like to eat meat. And despite the fact that a growing number of scientists, doctors, environmentalists, and animal rights activists have warned that the overconsumption of meat is not healthy, sustainable, or good for the environment, the demand for meat hasn’t let up (bacon cupcake fad, I’m looking at you). Fun fact: The average person in the United States eats about 270 pounds of meat a year, reports Laura June in The Verge.Skip to next paragraph
Jenna Fisher is the Monitor's former Asia editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine from 2010 through 2013.
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But if Americans can’t be convinced to go meatless in an effort to be gentler on the environment or kinder to animals, or to reach greenhouse-gas emission goals, perhaps they can change the way they get their meat, suggests Ms. June.
She writes about a process that is poised to shift the discussion on the environmental, health, and ethical issues surrounding farm animals: meat grown in a lab using stem cells. By using meat produced in a sterile environment, no animals are harmed and no land for grazing is needed. People who have tried a lab meat burger say it is tasty, healthy (zero fat), and indistinguishable from one made of animal meat. And lab-grown meat could be ready for grocery stores and restaurants within the next couple of decades.
Escape from Thailand
When you think of Thailand, you might think of the beaches, the sunshine, and ubiquitous smiles. But journalist Erika Fry shares in the Columbia Journalism Review the gripping story of her narrow escape from languishing for years in a Thai jail after she wrote what seemed to be a straightforward story in the Bangkok Post. She had reported that a Thai official had been accused of plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation on organic asparagus. Although the evidence against him was overwhelming, he, in turn, opened a defamation case against her. What would have been an open-and-shut case in the US in Ms. Fry’s favor, turned into a day in jail, a number of secret meetings, subterfuge, and a lesson in Thailand’s draconian defamation laws and how its justice system is routinely manipulated by people in positions of power and influence.
Kazakhstan as an antiterror investment
This summer President Obama said he would rethink his opposition to the US military involvement in Syria if the regime there were to use its stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. Now, as the world determines how to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Alex Pasternack takes this as a timely moment to point out in Vice magazine that the Pentagon is pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into its own biological warfare program: Kazakhstan’s new Central Reference Laboratory. “When it opens in September 2015, the $102-million project laboratory is meant to serve as a Central Asian way station for a global war on dangerous disease,” writes Mr. Pasternack.