Florida and Alabama Ban Meat Manufactured from Animal Cells

By Jaclyn De Candio for Protect The Harvest

Alternative, “cell-based,” meats concocted and grown in laboratories have ignited a political firestorm involving multimillion-dollar startups, global elite climate change crusaders, NGOs, farmers, ranchers, federal regulators, state legislatures, and governors. The latest cell-based “meat” laws, which are outright bans, involve the Florida and Alabama legislative bodies passing laws prohibiting the sale of these alternative “meat” products in their respective states. Governors in both states subsequently signed the legislation, making it state law.

The Alabama bill passed on May 7, 2024, and prohibits the manufacture, sale, or distribution of food products made from cultured animal cells. This follows a similar Florida bill passed a week earlier. Of note, the official cattle advocacy associations of both states were strong supporters of these actions.

What’s lab-grown meat?

Cell-cultured “meat,” also called lab-grown “meat,” differs from any other “alternative protein” products previously sold. Unlike plant-based “meat” knockoffs like those manufactured by Impossible Foods, which deceptively advertises “Ground Beef Made From Plants,” cell-based “meats” are made by replicating cells taken from live animals. The stem cells replicate in steel vessels, usually nourished by fetal bovine serum taken from unborn calves. Eventually, replicating cells form enough material to create something approximating “meat.” This technology is more than a decade old, with the first product for human consumption created in 2013 by a Dutch scientist.

As defined by the Congressional Research Service, this process involves producing meat cells in a lab from an initial sample of animal muscle cells that do not require animals to be slaughtered. In 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the production of lab-grown meat. Given the technology and energy required to grow enough “meat” to produce a single hamburger patty, the cost remains prohibitive for anyone other than those with extreme wealth. The goal of those involved in developing these products is to eventually bring the price down through industrial-scale production at large manufacturing plants. 

The war on lab-grown meat

At a recent press conference, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a statement addressing the state’s ban declaring, “We’re not going to do that fake meat. That doesn’t work.” He made it clear the pushback was focused on fighting globalism and promoting increased investment in local farmers and ranchers.

The decision was made, in part, as a response to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) commitment to mandating the implementation of cellular-based agriculture under the guise of addressing climate change. WEF, together with the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN), and numerous high-profile billionaire elitists, advocates against animal agriculture’s alleged yet debunked adverse climate change impact.

The potential negative impact on agriculture, especially in states with a strong livestock economy such as Florida, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Montana and others, would be devastating. The authority to regulate lab-grown food is relatively new, with few long-term studies conducted.

Friends and foes of lab-grown “meat” proteins

Between 2018 and 2022, nine states implemented standards requiring the identification and marking of lab-grown “meat.” The support for bans and restrictions is strong among the farming and ranching communities and their advocacy associations. There are other concerns the agriculture community points to including environmental impact, lack of regulations and food safety.

Cell-based startups UPSIDE Foods and Eat Just were the first to receive federal government approval to sell products to retailers and food service, although they do not have any for sale as of this writing. UPSIDE decided to fight back, creating a change.org petition asking consumers to tell their political leaders “to stop policing” their food choices.

The Meat Institute (formerly the North American Meat Institute or NAMI) reports that several inventors in the biotech space are already speaking out loudly against state bans as they argue it will hinder innovation. UPSIDE Foods receives support from Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Cargill, Tyson, USDA and others. Eat Just has numerous venture capital funders, including VegInvest/Ahimsa Foundation, which largely exists to replace the use of animals for food.   

Standing strong

This debate won’t be disappearing anytime soon. It is estimated more than 150 companies are currently working on various cell-based “meat” products.

Nevertheless, numerous states are supporting their animal agriculture businesses, the vast majority being family-owned, multigenerational, local operations. Going forward, evidence is mounting that cell-based “meats” are not the remedy for adverse climate claims, nor for affordable “meat” that could improve food security. The University of California at Davis published a study that suggests lab-grown meat generates a carbon footprint higher than traditional beef production.

At Protect The Harvest, we believe farmers and ranchers will continue fighting for A Free and Fed America, and we will continue advocating for them. If Americans use Alabama and Florida as templates, resources used in pursuit of lab-grown “meat” may soon be available for use on truly important technologies that address an ever-growing need for increased, science-based, fact-based, truthful, common sense, food production around the world.

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