Florida Senate Bans Sales of Cultivated Meat  – vegconomist

Yesterday, the Florida Senate approved a bill banning the sale of cultivated meat, making Florida the first state in the country to do so.

As reported by local media, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 26-10 to pass the bill, which would make changes related to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. All the votes against the bill were from Democrats. R-Tampa representative Jay Collins, the bill’s sponsor, stated that although research over time may prove that cultivated meat is feasible, there is a need for more certainty on its safety. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a strong supporter of the ban, has previously called cultivated meat “fake meat.” 

Research on cultivated meat continues to be allowed since NASA and other space researchers are developing the technology to feed astronauts in long-term space journeys. A previous bill version, introduced last November by Florida House Representative Tyler Sirois, also aimed to prohibit research. According to the bill, anyone found in violation could face criminal penalties, including a misdemeanor of the second degree. 

Cultivated Chicken FDA
© GOOD Meat

Potential competition

Despite a multiyear review by the US Agriculture Department and US Food and Drug Administration confirming the safety of products from the cultivated meat startups UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat, the bill’s sponsors insist that the technology still has too many unknown risks. For example, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and other Florida farmer organizations argue that “lab-grown meat” should not be classified as meat.

In an interview with Politico in November, Sirois openly stated that his main goal was to safeguard the farmers from potential competition for new technologies, emphasizing the significance of farming and cattle industries in Florida.

Meanwhile, Arizona and Alabama also have interests in prohibiting cultivated meat, and Texas and Nebraska are pushing for stricter labeling regulations for plant and cell-based products.

Chef José Andrés grilling cultivated chicken
Image courtesy of GOOD Meat

Another way to make meat

Critics of the bill, including the biotech sector, argue that this decision will hinder the progress and growth of an industry under development.  Multiple studies suggest that cultivated meat has the potential to meet consumer demand while addressing climate, health, and animal welfare concerns.

In the US, more than 40 companies work in the development of cultivated meat or seafood, attracting 60% of global investments, according to Good Food Institute figures. Moreover, Tufts University launched the world’s first undergraduate degree in cellular agriculture with a USDA research grant. Also, this year, UC Davis launched a research center focusing on alternative proteins, including cultivated meat.

As reported, bill sponsor Jay Collins,  chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said: “We believe that our beef grows from a cow on the ground that eats grass, generates beef when we slaughter it. Same thing with pigs, same thing with chickens.”

Cultivated meat has been approved for sale in Singapore and Israel.

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