Florida foolishly bans lab-grown meat

Florida foolishly bans lab-grown meat

Florida has just passed a law banning the sale of lab-grown meat, even though such meat is perfectly safe and is an additional option for people who would like to eat meat without causing the death of animals. NBC News reports:

Lab-grown meat, also known as cultivated meat, has attracted considerable attention in recent years as startups have raised millions of dollars to improve the technology meant to create a climate-friendly alternative to traditional meat sources. Cultivated meat is usually grown in a metal vessel from a sample of animal cells. They multiply in a container called a bioreactor while being fed with water, amino acids, vitamins and lipids — a process that can be difficult to do at scales large enough to create enough food for commercial sale. Still, some companies have made strides, with two California startups receiving approval from U.S. regulators last year to sell lab-grown chicken.

Those companies said Florida’s bill stifles innovation in a space that is becoming competitive globally. “The United States has a tremendous lead in terms of alternative proteins right now. We have 43 cultivated meat companies in the world. But this kind of political rhetoric and these laws put that in jeopardy,” said Tom Rossmeissl, the head of global marketing at Eat Just Inc., the company behind cultivated meat brand Good Meat.

Upside Foods, another cultivated meat startup, said the ban could put the resilience of Florida’s supply chain at risk by hindering the state’s ability to address the projected doubling of global protein demand by 2050. “This type of discriminatory legislation jeopardizes the United States’ leadership in biotechnology and enables countries like China to gain unfair advantage,” Upside Foods said in an email to NBC News. The main competitor in the cultivated meat industry is China, which included the technology in its latest five-year agricultural plan as a way to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and stave off food scarcity.

There’s nothing wrong with the taste of lab-grown meat. As Reason Magazine’s Emma Camp notes, “I’ve actually had lab-grown meat before, and it’s pretty good! Politicians [who want to ban lab-grown meat] are worried about competition for meat industry giants, not protecting Americans.”

In November, Italy “banned the production of lab-grown meat in a bid to protect its powerful agricultural industry,” reported The Financial Times. “We are the first nation to ban it, with all due respect to the multinationals who hope to make monstrous profits” at the expense of “citizens’ jobs,” said Italy’s agriculture minister in a Facebook post. Coldiretti, a league of Italian farmers, launched a campaign the previous year to ban cultivated meat. The Financial Times reported that “Italian agribusinesses had feared that future demand for cultivated meat among young Italians concerned about the environmental consequences of meat consumption could hit their bottom line.”

Crunchbase reported last year that investors are pouring more than a billion dollars each year into startups “working on cell-cultured meat and other cell-cultured meat alternatives.” “Purveyors of lab-grown meat … foresee a world where our plates are full of steak but animal slaughter is largely a thing of the past,” reports Axios.

But “for now, meat grown from animal cells is only available in the U.S. in very limited quantities at two high-end restaurants. Chicken is the first proof-of-concept product, and while the taste is familiar, the texture is a work in progress. It remains to be seen if the technology to ‘grow’ meat at scale will prove economical — and if consumers will welcome the results.”

Ten years ago, scientists came up with the world’s first lab-grown beef burger. Last year, a Dutch startup raised money to promote “stem-cell technology that can rapidly grow slaughter-free sausages,” reported Bloomberg News:

Meatable is betting that its use of patented technology and so-called pluripotent stem cells, which can grow a pork sausage in only eight days, will give it an edge over other cultivated meat startups. The company has just raised $35 million to scale up the process and bring products like pork dumplings to the market.

The key for Meatable is the speed of cultivation, which should allow the company to expand output and cut costs, bringing prices closer to those of traditional meat. As investors get more selective after some initiatives fell short of expectations, Meatable plans to bring its products to restaurants and stores in Singapore next year, while also targeting the US, which recently approved the sale of cell-based chicken.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for CNSNews.com and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at hfb138@yahoo.com


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