Florida bans lab-grown meat as other states weigh it: What’s their beef with cultured meat?

Florida bans lab-grown meat as other states weigh it: What's their beef with cultured meat?
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welcom to America today with a new article about Florida bans lab-grown meat as other states weigh it: What’s their beef with cultured meat? 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the ban on lab-grown meat not only protects the state’s cattle farmers, but also thwarts the ‘authoritarian goals’ of the global elite to make us eat ‘fake meat.’

Florida has become the first state to outlaw the manufacture and distribution of lab-grown meat. But other states including Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee have similar measures cooking.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, May 1, signed into law the bill, which would ban lab-grown meat, also called “cultivated” meat because it’s grown from animal stem cells. “Take your fake lab-grown meat elsewhere,” he said. “We’re not doing that in the state of Florida.”

The ban – it does not include Impossible meat, which is made from plant-based ingredients – is meant to protect cattle ranchers and the “integrity of American agriculture,” DeSantis said.

But critics call the move misguided for several reasons. For starters, the first cultivated meat regulatory approvals in the U.S. came through less than a year ago.

“No one in the field has yet scaled up to the levels you need to produce food for supermarkets,” David Kaplan, a biomolecular engineer focusing on cellular agriculture at Tufts University, told Scientific American. “There’s not even an industry yet. It’s just fledgling!”

Many meat-alternative companies and supporters consider lab-grown meat as a way to address the environmental and ethical concerns tied to traditional mass-production of meat. Initially, lab-grown meat will cost more than three times as much to produce as natural beef, a 2021 analysis found.

However, non-profit think tank Good Food Institute has cited research published in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment forecasting cultivated meat to eventually be nearly three times more efficient than conventional beef production, with the potential to reduce the carbon footprint by 92%, land use by 90%, and water use by 66%.

Florida bans lab-grown meat as other states weigh it: What's their beef with cultured meat?
Florida bans lab-grown meat as other states weigh it: What’s their beef with cultured meat?

Why did Gov. DeSantis ban lab-grown meat?

With the ban, Florida “is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef.”Beef is pretty big business in Florida. In 2024, the state ranked ninth for beef cattle production with 862,000. Beef cattle sales and sales of breeding stock generate a total economic impact of more than $900 million annually, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

DeSantis made fun of liberals advocating for “fake meat” as a way to combat climate change – and chided global leaders such as those at The World Economic Forum, which has advocated for insects as an alternative edible protein source (they are considered delicacies in certain cultures).

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in Naples, Florida, on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.
Not all lawmakers were on board. When the bill was being debated in the Florida House in March, Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, D-Parkland, said the “food fight” part of the bill “sends a bad message” to researchers and investors about cultivated meat, according to the News Service of Florida.

“I think it will deter future manufacturers from coming to Florida because they don’t know what day of the week that the Legislature will be OK with them being in the state of Florida,” Hunschofsky said.

What states have banned lab-grown meat?

So far only Florida. But Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee have recently considered bills banning lab-grown meat.

The Alabama bill, which originated in the state Senate, would “prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of food products made from cultured animal cells.” The state House passed it April 30, but an amendment requires it goes back to the Senate before being sent to Gov. Kay Ivy, Food Safety magazine reported.

The approved bill, similar to the Florida law, removed a research ban that could affect NASA and the space industry, which is looking at cultivated meat for long-term space missions.

In the Arizona legislature, two different bills passed the House – one banning lab-grown meat and another for tougher meat labeling – but neither made it out of the Senate, Food Safety News reported.

The Tennessee bill, which would ban the sale of cultured meat and impose fines of up to $1 million, was not considered by either house before the General Assembly session ended. But the bill “would be the death knell for (cultured meat),” said its sponsor state senator Frank Niceley, a farmer, The Daily Mail reported. “And in the long run, we’d be a lot better off.”

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell disagrees, arguing that the industry’s prospects “offer huge potential benefits.”

“To be clear, this is not about a left-wing nanny state forcing the sale or consumption of lab-grown meats,” she wrote recently. “It’s about a conservative nanny state prohibiting the voluntary consumption and sale of these products (which again, mostly don’t yet exist). … These bans are partly about, well, throwing red meat to the base.”

Upside founder & CEO Uma Valeti peers into one of the cultivation tanks at the Upside Foods plant in Emeryville, California, , where lab-grown meat is cultivated, on January 11, 2023.

Why shouldn’t we eat lab-grown meat? Is it safe?

Even though the Food and Drug Administration in 2022 said it is safe to eat lab-grown meat and the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave its approval in 2023, there remain questions about the health effects of lab-grown meat.

Among the rumors that have been debunked:

Lab-grown chicken being sold in grocery stores (it is only available in select restaurants).
Aldi-brand Appleton Farms making cultured bacon (the unrelated Appleton Meats focuses on lab-grown meat).
Lab-grown meat is made from human cells (FDA regulators have confirmed it is made from animal cells).
Lab-grown meat will be sold without being labeled as such (the Department of Agriculture requires the meat alternatives to be labeled “cell-cultivated”).

Lab-grown meat is cultivated from cancer cells (they are made from stem cells).
Good Meat’s cultivated chicken displayed at the Eat Just office on July 27, 2023, in Alameda, California. Good Meat and Upside Foods got approval from the USDA to sell lab-grown chicken in June 2023.

Are animals killed for lab-grown meat?

No animals are slaughtered to make cultured meat. However, scientists can take cells from slaughtered livestock to make the meat. A CNN article from 2023 suggests those with religious or ethical reasons for not eating meat look deeper into where their lab-grown burger came from before trying it out.

Lab-grown chicken from GOOD Meat is grilled by Chef Daniel Lugo at Jose Andres’s China Chilcano, in Washington, U.S., on July 13, 2023.
Can vegans eat lab-grown meat?
Cultured meat is still taken from animal cells, so it’s not considered vegan. But an article from VegNews said a poll from the dating app Veggly found 24% of vegans surveyed would be open to eating lab-grown meat since it does not involve slaughter.

Does lab-grown meat taste like real meat?

Reviews for cultured chicken from Upside Foods, which was among the first two companies approved, have been largely positive, with one reviewer from the MIT Technology Review saying, “while the bites I slowly chewed and considered were still softer than a chicken breast, they were definitely more chicken-like than other alternatives I’ve tried.” An Associated Press review said it, well, “tastes like chicken.”

The Controversy Surrounding Lab-Grown Meat

The first cultured meat hamburger was introduced to the world in 2013, and soon after in 2020, the Singapore Food Agency allowed for cultured chicken to be sold in Singapore. There are hopes that lab-grown meat products will eventually be available in other countries as well. Since the release of the first cultured meat hamburger in 2013, experts, leaders, and everyday people alike have been expressing many pros and cons of lab-grown meat. Ultimately, revolutionary ideas and grounded concerns have demonstrated that the lab-grown meat industry and its product are controversial, and it will take quite some time to harness the new technology.

The staple source of nutrition for our world’s population for centuries has honestly been meat. Many individuals across the globe love the taste of a good slab of steak, while others enjoy savoring a skewer of chicken kabobs. Essentially, it’s part of our human instinct. Nonetheless, farming these animals on a massive scale has a major impact on our environment. Carbon emissions, deforestation, and water usage issues are just a few of many concerns associated with traditional livestock such as cows, chickens, and pigs.

To remedy such detrimental outcomes, cultured meat has been proposed as a potential solution. Cultured or lab-grown meat is meat that is produced in a lab from the stem cells of an animal and is typically grown in a bioreactor instead of in a field on a farm. The goal is for this lab-grown meat to taste and look exactly like real meat while being significantly better for the environment.

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