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Friday, June 17, 2011

It Is Unspeakable: UPDATED: It Is a Hoax!

Posted by on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 11:53 AM

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Thanks for nothing, Matt.

All right, people—I just ran into Stranger web guru Anthony Hecht (outside the bathrooms, coincidentally), and he and I agree, based on a gut feeling (har!) and on the refrigerator in the video labeled "SHIT BURGER," that this whole Japanese-scientist-synthesizes-meat-from-human-feces thing is a hoax.

My reportorial skills falter in the face of trying to confirm a story out of Japan, but when you google "Okayama Laboratory"—where researcher Mitsuyuki Ikeda has supposedly synthesized the poop-meat—you get a website for a company that makes stents and other medical devices. And here's the only hit for Mitsuyuki Ikeda besides all the recent turd-meat "news"—for a Mitsuyuki Ikeda who's the director of the Okayama UNESCO Association, not a research scientist at all.

I'm going to go out on a limb and be the first one on the internet to call it: HOAX.

UPDATE! It's funny to see various outlets rewrite the "story." Here's the International Business Times, a.k.a. "the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs":

Mitsuyuki Ikeda, a researcher from the Environmental Assessment Center in Okayama has developed a new a artificial meat burger but before you go drooling over it, be warned—it's made of human poop.

Here's Yahoo News taking the bait:

Somehow this feels like a Vonnegut plotline: population boom equals food shortage. Solution? Synthesize food from human waste matter. Absurd yes, but Japanese scientists have actually discovered a way to create edible steaks from human feces.

And DailyTech.com:

Mankind has come up with all sorts of ideas for new meat sources from cloned animals to chowing down on insects, but this idea may be the most outlandish yet...

And our friend Andrew Sullivan bought it, too! Ha.

 

Comments (43) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Camembert 1
All scientists should use a plastic hand on a stick with red manicured fingernail to show their workings.
Posted by Camembert on June 17, 2011 at 10:41 AM · Report this
Granny Smith 2
Easily the most disturbing part of this video is the hand on a stick. I believed it up until that part.
Posted by Granny Smith on June 17, 2011 at 10:41 AM · Report this
Jaymz 3
It's all just atoms, right? Where do you think the shit goes on the Enterprise.... right into the replicator!
Posted by Jaymz on June 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM · Report this
lindsey 4
my favorite part is the refrigerator labeled "shit burger" haha
Posted by lindsey on June 17, 2011 at 11:11 AM · Report this
COMTE 5
Seriously, protein is protein.
Posted by COMTE on June 17, 2011 at 11:13 AM · Report this
6
It's not like we have trouble keeping bacteria that live in poop out of non poop derived meat...
Posted by Magyarhammer on June 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM · Report this
veo_ 7
Well, I got about 3 seconds into that video and promptly closed it.

Posted by veo_ on June 17, 2011 at 11:22 AM · Report this
8
so genetically modified plants = bad
"meat" made from rearranged/synthesized/modified sewage = good

every atomic arrangement and presence will be precisely duplicated - no stray molecules, no odd chemicals, nothing but a perfect "copy" of something as complex as that produced by a living being through myriad biological processes we don't fully understand?

exposing our complex biological systems to this "product"

what could possibly go wrong?

right...

this idea makes a McDonald's rib look positively "organic"
Posted by myr on June 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 9
Mmm, I loves me a nice, thick piece of medium-rare CHON.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on June 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM · Report this
10
If Soylent Green is people, this must be "Soylent Brown"?
Posted by mayday on June 17, 2011 at 11:24 AM · Report this
11
This is soooooo our future though. Everything the body needs.
Posted by Magyarhammer on June 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM · Report this
12
what's for lunch today dear?

honey, have I got a treat for you, today it's that huge dump you took last night and a MaxiChem reaction enhancer that I've run through the exploder - and of course, some garlic. How do you like yours, medium rare?
Posted by myr on June 17, 2011 at 11:27 AM · Report this
rob! 13
This is what happens when coprophiliacs are encouraged to indulge their fetish safely.

That said, Dr. Sludge did use the proper (and uncomfortably descriptive) word, "extruder," which was garbled in the subtitle as "exploder" (also uncomfortably descriptive).
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on June 17, 2011 at 11:32 AM · Report this
rockshrine 14
If colonization on Mars thing ever happens, something tells me sewage meat will be on the menu.
Posted by rockshrine on June 17, 2011 at 11:48 AM · Report this
Camembert 15
It's from a British TV show. Not Eurotrash but something similar. Definitely not a reputable source. I remember watching it on Channel 4 in the mid-1990s, teenaged & drunk on a Friday night.
Posted by Camembert on June 17, 2011 at 12:03 PM · Report this
balderdash 16
I can't believe any of you actually believed this for so much as a moment. Do you know how hard real, not-insane laboratories all over the world are working to create lab-grown meat right now? And the best they can do is extremely cost-ineffective gobbets of rubbery grey flesh-stuff.

I honestly don't know why people are flipping the fuck out about the concept, though. We already have machines that turn our poop into food. They're called plants.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on June 17, 2011 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Roma 17
The internet is made of scats...
Posted by Roma on June 17, 2011 at 12:29 PM · Report this
Posted by Anti-m on June 17, 2011 at 12:42 PM · Report this
19
Totally fake. The Japanese characters next to SHIT BURGER read Unko baaga, which is directly translated as shit burger, lol. That would not be something a Japanese person would label a fridge with. It's obviously fake and I'm with Bethany on this one.
Posted by PBIM on June 17, 2011 at 12:51 PM · Report this
20
@16 - I'll stick with letting the plants to do the conversion of shit to food - that's all part of the cycle of life, everything in it's proper place. I just don't trust science and industry to be able to replicate food - they can't even be trusted to grow the real thing without supervision.

the dichotomy I find odd though is that a lot of people who find GMO technology totally offensive, dangerous etc. at the same time think "meat" that would come from a non-natural process such as is being pursued is a-okay and would be perfectly healthy and free of risk, a new wonder to be rejoiced in - protein is protein. So I suppose a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate - let's eat corn syrup to get those.

how much you want to bet if anything like engineered "meat" comes to reality it will be Monsanto or a similar big AgBiz or Pharma company that dominates? These proposed wonder foods might contain all the proteins and nutrients but what else will be in there to get it to pretend to be like meat? I wouldn't be willing to eat it.

Posted by myr on June 17, 2011 at 1:30 PM · Report this
21
Making a Soylent green like product from Road kill or old shoes would be easier than extracting usable protien out of Poop. That's why it is poop.
Posted by wl on June 17, 2011 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Chefgirl 22
I'm going to guess it came from the UK show, "The Day Today", circa '94. Can anyone confirm?
Posted by Chefgirl on June 17, 2011 at 1:52 PM · Report this
23
It's the internet age, people. Horseshit travels the speed of light.

The botox baby, the balloon boy, and shit burgers. All obviously fake to anybody with half a brain. Why do people keep falling for this?

Posted by tkc on June 17, 2011 at 2:44 PM · Report this
balderdash 24
@20 - "I just don't trust science and industry"

I'm sorry, but that's not entirely different from saying "I just don't trust Asians and communists" or "I just don't trust union workers and skinheads." You need to narrow your focus and exercise a little intellectual discrimination, in the classical sense, because otherwise that's fuckin' offensive.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on June 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
25
It's Jonathan Swift for a new generation.
Posted by Babs6 on June 17, 2011 at 5:06 PM · Report this
Sandiai 26
@21. I know, right? Poop is what's left over when all the calories are extracted out. Not only that, but waste products and toxins are dumped into the large intestine to get rid of them (poop is full of bile acids, urea, heavy metals, oxidized environmental toxins, drugs, hormones, etc, all of which would require chromatography or something to remove). And the energy efficiency? Give me a break. I'm sure it would take more energy to synthesize meat from poop than the calories that a product like that would provide.
Now, horse shit, on the other hand, might actually work, since horses only digest about half of what passes through them and their poop is not as toxic.
Posted by Sandiai on June 17, 2011 at 5:07 PM · Report this
27
@24 - the rest of the sentence is "to replicate food" - and generally I DO trust science, and If I had reread carefully before posting I would have left that word out and stuck with "Industry" or perhaps "corporations" but I don't see that it's similar to not trusting a group such as Asians (or even communists though I'd be pretty skeptical of them).

My overall point was more about the apparent excitement for and positive view of pseudomeat by whatever process that might involve but a general rejection of GMO plants, which seems to me a similar process and approach and one that at least uses actual living things, and one likely simpler to get right given the difference in complexity between plant an animal life. That inconsistency (as least I see it as inconsistent) is what's interesting.

That fascination applies whether or not the poop to meat story is fake, because as you noted, the attempt to generate "meat" from a pile of ingredients and no living being is being pursued aggressively - and I happen to think that's a terrible idea for multiple reasons, from skepticism about safety of the end product (practical) and from it further removing food from what it is for all living things (philosophical/spiritual) - every living thing exists and persists by taking the life of other living things (and I include plants as living things), it's called nature
Posted by myr on June 17, 2011 at 5:26 PM · Report this
balderdash 28
@27, I suggest - with no sarcasm or patronizing intended - that you look up something called Golden Rice before you form a final opinion on the matter of scientific manipulation of foodstuffs. It's a story that includes a lot of that same inconsistency, which I agree is interesting... and frustrating.

And for my part, as far as philosophical and spiritual objections go I find the idea of meat that doesn't involve killing a living creature far more appealing than not. Getting everyone to stop eating meat is a pipe dream, so we might as well try to be ethical about it and reduce the amount of suffering involved as much as possible. Cows are pretty damn stupid but they still suffer when they're treated like a commodity.

As regards safety, well... a product that's grown under laboratory or even factory-industrial conditions is, in my estimation, far more likely to be "clean" of contaminants than meat that comes from any kind of messy slaughterhouse process. Meat grown in vats wouldn't require massive doses of growth hormones and antibiotics, and wouldn't accumulate heavy metals and pesticides from environmental contamination. It also wouldn't ever have to pass through a stage of processing where sloppy procedure would result in it being intermingled with fecal matter and diseased or decomposing waste tissue. Right now even the most humane, sustainable, grass-finished meats (which it's worth noting that the vast majority of people can't afford) have to pass through large slaughterhouse facilities due to the economies of scale necessary to meet FDA and USDA regulations. Unless you raise it yourself or buy it on site under the table from the farmer, which, again, is not a route accessible to the majority of people, you're going to eat industrial meat, and the interface of natural biology and industry is always going to be messy both literally and morally. Removing the sentient-if-not-sapient animals from the picture would go a long way toward making the whole deeply flawed system a lot more acceptable.
More...
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on June 17, 2011 at 6:40 PM · Report this
balderdash 29
Man, when I am home sick I apparently get a severe case of Tolstoy-itis.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on June 17, 2011 at 6:45 PM · Report this
30
I'm not ready to call "bullshit!" based on the lack of English Google results, but that video is totally sketchy.

I interpreted "Okayama laboratory" to mean a lab located in Okayama city, not that it's the name of the laboratory.

Searching for the guy's name, 池田 満之, turns up a number of links describing him as the president of a company that does environment consulting and education. According to this site, http://www.eco-michi.jp/interview_002.ht… , he has a degree in industrial engineering from the engineering department of Tottori University, is the representative director of a company called "environment impact assessment Western Japan," does environmental research and consulting as a "consulting engineer" in environment, industry, and engineering administration, and as an "environment counselor" does counseling, education, and univeristy lecturing. It says he also serves on the board of directors for the Okayama Unesco Association as well as a bunch of other stuff.

So, the dude seems real, but I can't find anything on him more recent than 2009. The only Japanese stuff I found on the shit-burger story are blogs re-posting from English-medium sites, which all link back to that one video.

The audio in the video matches the subtitles, but not the way his mouth is moving. The images in the background of shit and meat, as well as the "shit burger" labels, look like they could have been edited in. When he's using the hand pointer to show the flow of the protein extraction process, I can see labels on the diagram about salt and ions, but nothing about protein, although it is rather blurry. And in the very last shot of the video, of the building with bicycles out front, the text is all Chinese, not Japanese.
More...
Posted by ridia on June 17, 2011 at 10:24 PM · Report this
Stiny 31
Aren't most commercial burgers mostly made of shit anyway? Why not skip the cow shit and go right to human shit?
Posted by Stiny on June 18, 2011 at 8:06 AM · Report this
32
It is hilarious to watch. CBS News is addressing it with caution, but I think they actually think it is real. LOL!
Posted by Mark Aaron Murnahan on June 18, 2011 at 2:53 PM · Report this
33
You are right.. I knew it was a HOAX! VisionsGreen.com placed it as a HOAX at 6:30 this morn. I dont think you were the first. lol
Posted by screener on June 19, 2011 at 11:25 AM · Report this
34
You are right.. I knew it was a HOAX! VisionsGreen.com placed it as a HOAX at 6:30 this morn. I dont think you were the first. lol
Posted by screener on June 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM · Report this
35
I kind of wondered, because the ideal stated was they were getting the nutrients out of the poop. But seems to me, if this were possible, it wouldn't last long, as constantly recycling it would soon run out of any nutrients. And how much could one really get in the first place - especially from those who, say, eat at McDonald's, which doesn't have much nutrition to begin with?
Posted by Faustus on June 20, 2011 at 12:57 AM · Report this
36
Don't knock it till you try it. —Two girls, one cup
Posted by twogirlsonecup on June 20, 2011 at 10:03 AM · Report this
37
Don't knock it till you try it.
—Two girls, one cup
Posted by twg1cup on June 20, 2011 at 10:11 AM · Report this
38
I did a little googling to try to figure out if anyone had exposed this as a hoax, nothing definitive but someone from slashdot wrote up a post here where they did a search on google news for archived stories involving either the supposed lead scientist, "Mitsuyuki Ikeda", or "Environmental Assessment Center, Okayama, Japan", and found stories on meat from human poop have cropped up periodically over the years, a bunch from 2009 and a few from back in 1993 (here's a 1993 story from the Philadelphia Inquire… and a 1993 story from "News of the Weird", and doing a similar search for "Mitsuyuki Ik… I also found a story from Deseret News). Of course it's possible that this guy does exist and that he's just sort of a lone crank who keeps pushing this story and every once in a while gets news organizations to bite, but I think it's more likely that the whole thing is a hoax and that the TV program above hired actors to do a fake story inspired by the written reports (the youtube video doesn't give any info on what show the clip came from, might have been a tabloid program or a tv equivalent of "news of the weird"...note at 1:34 the label on the fridge is "shit burger", definitely seems like a wink to the audience, not to mention that scene of him pointing to something with a fake plastic hand with painted fingernails).
Posted by JesseM on June 20, 2011 at 4:59 PM · Report this
39
I did a little googling to try to figure out if anyone had exposed this as a hoax, nothing definitive but someone from slashdot wrote up a post here where they did a search on google news for archived stories involving either the supposed lead scientist, "Mitsuyuki Ikeda", or "Environmental Assessment Center, Okayama, Japan", and found stories on meat from human poop have cropped up periodically over the years, a bunch from 2009 and a few from back in 1993 (here's a 1993 story from the Philadelphia Inquire… and a 1993 story from "News of the Weird", and doing a similar search for "Mitsuyuki Ik… I also found a story from Deseret News). Of course it's possible that this guy does exist and that he's just sort of a lone crank who keeps pushing this story and every once in a while gets news organizations to bite, but I think it's more likely that the whole thing is a hoax and that the TV program above hired actors to do a fake story inspired by the written reports (the youtube video doesn't give any info on what show the clip came from, might have been a tabloid program or a tv equivalent of "news of the weird"...note at 1:34 the label on the fridge is "shit burger", definitely seems like a wink to the audience, not to mention that scene of him pointing to something with a fake plastic hand with painted fingernails).
More...
Posted by JesseM on June 20, 2011 at 5:02 PM · Report this
40
Hi there, a Czech news server fully swollowed the... story:
http://hobby.idnes.cz/video-obsah-kanali…

:)))
Posted by Marta on June 21, 2011 at 8:34 AM · Report this
41
Discovery also spreads the story! http://news.discovery.com/tech/steak-hum…
Posted by Marta on June 23, 2011 at 6:19 AM · Report this
42
As a student of the UC Denver campus and an intern at the anschutz medical campus, I have access to huge amounts of research articles and I've never not been able to trace a news report back to the primary research if I ever want to check the facts.

Unfortunately, the poop burger and its creator are nowhere to be found through pubmed or our school's article search hub.

I call it a hoax.
Posted by raptor on November 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
43
As a student of the UC Denver campus and an intern at the anschutz medical campus, I have access to huge amounts of research articles and I've never not been able to trace a news report back to the primary research if I ever want to check the facts.

Unfortunately, the poop burger and its creator are nowhere to be found through pubmed or our school's article search hub.

I call it a hoax.
Posted by raptor on November 13, 2013 at 5:16 PM · Report this

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