Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tasty Chicken Nugget Prize

Ok, I'm not sure how to classify this one ... I'll put it under "health and medicine prizes" rather than making a new tag. PETA is offering a $1M prize for

the contest participant able to make the first in vitro chicken meat and sell it to the public by June 30, 2012.

Slate supports the goal of the prize - citing a lot of advantages (beyond PETA's animal cruelty concern) to being able to "skip the bird part", as they phrase it - but in another article on the prize has a criticism of the structure of the prize.

The prize requires the winner to demonstrate actually selling large amounts of the meat (implying FDA approval) across 10 states, by which time, according to their argument, the $1M would be somewhat irrelevant.

Slate uses the X PRIZE Foundation prizes as a comparison model. In these prizes, the technical demonstration is needed, and, although some regulatory hurdles may also have to be overcome in the process, the heavy lifting of commercialization is left for later after the technical demonstration has changed the landscape. Even a production-oriented prize like the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE doesn't require thousands of cars to be rolling into dealerships - just that a convincing business and cost-effective manufacturing plan be demonstrated.