Rabbi: Lab-grown pork could be kosher for Jews to eat – with milk
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Rabbi: Lab-grown pork could be kosher for Jews to eat – with milk

Yuval Cherlow says cultured meat loses its animal 'identity,' can be used to stave off hunger, prevent pollution and avoid animal suffering

Illustrative: A baked ham (iStock)
Illustrative: A baked ham (iStock)

A prominent Orthodox rabbi in Israel said that lab-grown pork would be kosher for consumption by Jews — even when eaten with dairy products.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow told the Ynet news site in an interview published Wednesday that “cloned” meat is not subject to the rules that apply to the consumption of regular meat.

In the interview, Cherlow of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization appeared to be talking about meat that is grown artificially in a laboratory from the cells of a pig, rather than meat produced from a live pig whose genetic material comes from a cell from which the pig was cloned.

However, the article did not quote him as making that distinction, and on Saturday night, responding to criticism over the erroneous terminology, Cherlow clarified that by “cloned” he had indeed meant “cultured.”

Cherlow was quoted as saying that “cloned meat produced from a pig shall not be defined as prohibited for consumption – including with milk.”

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow (Oren Nahshon/FLASH90)

In the interview, given ahead of a Bar-Ilan University symposium titled “Science and Halacha” and featuring a talk by Cherlow, he advocated rabbinic approval of cultured meat “so that people would not starve, to prevent pollution, and to avoid the suffering of animals.”

When the “cell of a pig is used and its genetic material is utilized in the production of food, the cell in fact loses its original identity and therefore cannot be defined as forbidden for consumption,” Cherlow said. “It wouldn’t even be meat, so you can consume it with dairy.”

In 2013, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division, said that meat from a lab-grown hamburger could be consumed with dairy products, although halacha, religious Jewish law, forbids it in meat produced from a live animal.

But Genack, who was commenting on the production of an artificial hamburger produced by researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, did not mention pork, whose consumption is one of Judaism’s strongest prohibitions, at least culturally.

“Without prophesying, clearly there will be a major disagreement,” Cherlow said over the consumption of cultured meat. And while “there is merit” in prohibiting that meat, too, “halachic thought should examine the needs of all humanity, not only one’s own case,” he said.

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