Recently we held the annual Second Form Public Speaking competition. Here is Richard Dennis's piece, on stem cell science:
"Pretty much all animals can grow back something.
We grow back our hair, finger and toe nails. Even ribs grow back to a small extent. All animals which have fur grow it back if it gets shaved off. A deer's antlers which are very similar to your nails fall off and grow back every year – at a rate 60 pounds of them in three months. If we cut ourselves, cells will duplicate and cover up the wound.
But there are some animals that do this much, much better than us. The spiny mouse, a small, shrew-like mouse in Africa can lose almost all the skin on its back, close the wound and grow it back in three days a cut the same size for us would take around nine days if where lucky
If a lizard loses its tail it can grow back a new, fully functioning tail in 3 to 6 months and if that tail gets cut off it can grow yet another one. But if I were to have my hand cut off I would just be left with a little stump
Some fish grow back there eyes and parts of the brain. Under the right conditions one starfish limb separated from the rest can grow a whole new star fish because it has all its internal organs in one spike of the star.
Tape worms, can regenerate an entire new tapeworm from one cell. That would be handy, if you cut yourself and spilled a drop of blood, - OH LOOK, it's a whole new me!
There is a organization called Euro Stem Cell which is working on making regenerative medicine help us able to regrow internal organs. Stem cells are cells that can be told to duplicate themselves to create body parts.
But this could go further! like taking a stem cell from a pig and growing bacon or making a steak out of cow stem cells. You could breed the perfect sheep and make thousands of tons of the exact same wool.
This is not science fiction. They've grown a burger; admittedly it had no fat and it was pure muscle and it didn't taste as good. But it was a burger all the same. And you can buy this synthetic burger for a all time low of only €250,00. So it's not cheap to be a vegetarian and eat supposedly the best meat supplement in the world.
But if this was mastered you could get any meat for the same price as any other venison (deer meat) for the same price as beef - it would be the same stem cells. No more huge pastoral fields or road blocks because of cows crossing. The countryside would die ; imagine how hard it would become for farmers.
So maybe it's not a such a good idea. Maybe it won't take off. Anyway it's pretty odd, the idea of synthetic meat.
Thank you for listening - and no, I'm not a vegetarian".