USA – Florida has become the first state in the nation to ban the sale of cell-based meat, also known as “cultivated” or “lab-grown” meat.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1084 into law, which aims to protect traditional agriculture and cattle ranchers while halting the distribution of meat grown from animal stem cells.

He defended the law as a measure to safeguard the integrity of American agriculture, emphasizing Florida’s commitment to local farmers and ranchers.

“Take your fake lab-grown meat elsewhere,” he asserted, drawing a clear line against the emerging industry.

In response to the ban, cultivated meat company GOOD Meat emphasized the safety of lab-grown meat and criticized the lack of credible safety concerns provided by the Florida legislature.

GOOD Meat highlighted their previous regulatory approvals from the FDA and USDA as evidence of their commitment to safety standards.

Critics argue that the ban is premature, given the nascent stage of the lab-grown meat industry. Biomolecular engineer David Kaplan pointed out that no company has yet scaled up production to meet supermarket demands, rendering the ban unnecessary at this stage.

Environmental impact

While lab-grown meat initially comes at a higher cost than traditional beef production, research suggests that it could eventually be more efficient and environmentally sustainable. The Good Food Institute projects significant reductions in carbon footprint, land use, and water consumption with the widespread adoption of cultivated meat.

The ban holds significant implications for Florida’s beef industry, which ranks ninth nationally for beef cattle production.

With beef cattle sales contributing over US$900 million annually to the state’s economy, the decision to outlaw lab-grown meat reflects Florida’s commitment to preserving its agricultural heritage.

National trend

While Florida leads the charge in banning lab-grown meat, other states like Alabama, Arizona, and Tennessee have also considered similar measures. These bills reflect ongoing debates surrounding the future of food production and regulation in the United States.

Sixteen states, along with the federal government, have already implemented regulations pertaining to the labeling of cell-cultivated meat. These regulations often prohibit companies from using terms like “meat” in their marketing and require the inclusion of disclosures explaining the use of cell-cultured products in the product.

While the United States and Singapore are among the few countries permitting the sale of cell-cultured meat, the industry faces significant challenges. These include scaling up production, achieving taste and texture parity with traditional meat, and reducing production costs.

Last year, Italy became the first country to officially slam the brakes on the global surge of cultured meat, igniting a heated clash between tradition and innovation.

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