Stand back, farmers — here comes the artificial food

The Hornstra Dairy Farm in Norwell.
The Hornstra Dairy Farm in Norwell.Debee Tlumacki/For The Boston Globe/File 2018

Ruining dairy farmers’ lives is not a winning pitch

Tony Seba and Catherine Tubb’s apparent glee at driving people from their livelihoods is most unattractive (“Disrupting the cow,” Opinion, Nov. 29). Modifications in behavior to improve our impact on the climate are imperative, of course, but ruining the lives of dairy farmers and ranchers is not a winning pitch. We have only to remember Hillary Clinton’s stated goal to put the coal industry out of business to recall where that got us: the buffoon in chief in the White House.

Unemployment is unhealthy for people, too. Recent data indicate that the death rate of middle-aged Americans is up, and life expectancy is down, particularly in states such as Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky (all coal-mining states) because of depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicide.


Who can even say what these glorified artificial “foods” will do to people in the long run?

In the meantime, I will continue to drink milk and eat beef until the cows come home.

Persis McClennen


Don’t wave away the human cost of disruption

Buried deep in Friday’s techno-cheerful op-ed about artificial dairy production, “Disrupting the cow,” is the obligatory nod toward the human cost of this disruption: “We also expect the new industry to generate nearly as many jobs (1 million) as it destroys (1.1 million).”

Leaving aside the 100,000 people that this calculus apparently consigns to unemployment, it reminds me of the fatuous hand-waving a couple of decades ago in predictions about automation of manufacturing: “Displaced workers will be retrained,” “downsizing will be managed through attrition, not layoffs,” etc. How’s that working out for you, Youngstown, Ohio?

Clearly, a planet with fewer cows is better for everybody, probably including the cows. But unless the transition is managed with more concern for people than is evidenced in this op-ed, there may be a significant dark side to the Uberization of milk.


Tom Elliott