C.O. ranchers, vegetarians react to 'test tube meat'

First lab-created burger fried up for taste tests

POSTED: 6:59 PM PDT August 5, 2013    UPDATED: 2:20 PM PDT August 6, 2013 
C. Oregonians share thoughts on test tube meat
TERREBONNE, Ore. -

Meat grown in a test tube? For many, that's hard to swallow.

"I suppose Star Trek is coming some day," Terrebonne rancher Mike Duggan said Monday.

And that some day has arrived -- or at least, big step toward it

The world's first lab-created burger is served Monday in London. Supporters of the technology hope it can battle world hunger and climate change.

But some here on the High Desert think it's just plain weird.

"I've always been in the medical field, so to think something you eat comes from a Petri dish is a little repulsive," said Sisters rancher Yvette Gaynor.

Judy Petullo is the co-executive director of VegNet Bend, an online support group for vegetarians.

She and many others around the world hope lab-grown meat could eventually lead to more humane treatment of animals.

"It would mean a lot less killing and a lot less suffering," Petullo said. "There's about a million animals an hour right now killed in horrific ways and raised in horrific ways."

Duggan owns DD Ranch and prides himself on providing humane treatment: grass-fed, organic and happy cows that in turn can feed people healthy food.

He said science shouldn't replace what nature has perfected.

"(Our cows have) no hormones, no shots, nothing -- it's just a real simple program," Duggan said. "It's the way my dad and my grandfather and great-grandfather did it."

Ranchers from Sisters' Lonesome Rock Ranch agreed, saying their customers value natural products.

"People want to know how their beef is treated and raised, what is in it, what is good for them," Gaynor said.

Duggan's son, Scott, works at the family ranch and teaches agricultural science. He said he appreciates the innovation behind the new meat -- but that balance is key.

"If our population continues to grow in the fashion it has, and space travel, things like that, there could probably be more of a market for a meat substitute, as long as we don't lose context of Mother Nature," Duggan said.

While the debate on whether test tube meat will be helpful or harmful continues, both sides agree, there are still many questions--and say buying petri meat in the grocery store is still likely many years away.