June 13, 2024 1:10 pm

Ron DeSantis bans ‘global elite’ lab-grown meat

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned lab-grown meat, saying he will “save our beef” from the “global elite” and its “authoritarian plans”.

“Florida is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs,” Mr DeSantis said in a statement.

The first-in-the-nation law prohibits anyone from selling or distributing lab-grown meat in Florida.

Similar efforts are under way in Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee.

Lab-grown or “cultivated” meat was first cleared for consumption in the US in 2022.

The process of making cultivated meat involves extracting cells from an animal, which are then fed with nutrients such as proteins, sugars and fats. The end product is genetically indistinguishable from traditionally produced meat.

Studies have suggested that eating cultivated meat can cut carbon emissions and water usage, and free up land for nature, compared to eating traditionally produced meat.

The World Economic Forum has for years touted lab-grown meat as an efficient and environmentally-friendly way to produce food, and feed a rapidly growing global population. It has also promoted insect farming as a “credible and alternative protein source”.

Lobbyists for edible insects have launched a campaign asking the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add mealworms, crickets protein powder and other insect products to the agency’s database of safe ingredients.

These unconventional food sources have become fodder for the US culture wars. Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene made headlines two years ago after she insinuated the government was monitoring whether Americans were eating fake meat grown in a petri dish.

Getty Images Chef Nate Park slices a piece of Good Meat's cultivated chicken at the Eat Just office on July 27, 2023 in Alameda, CaliforniaGetty Images
A slice of Good Meat’s cultivated chicken. Good Meat said it was “disappointed” in the new law

At an event on Wednesday announcing the new law, Mr DeSantis said he was “fighting against an ideology that ultimately wants to eliminate meat production in the US and around the globe”.

“In the state of Florida we’ve put down the marker very clearly; we stand with agriculture. We stand with the cattle ranchers,” he said.

Florida’s commissioner of agriculture Wilton Simpson applauded the legislation as a “tremendous step in the right direction”.

“Florida is taking a tremendous step in the right direction by signing first-in-the-nation legislation banning lab-grown meat,” Mr Simpson said.

But the move was also supported by an unlikely supporter of Mr DeSantis, Senator John Fetterman, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. It “pains me deeply” to agree with Mr DeSantis, Mr Fetterman wrote on X, “but I co-sign this”.

Good Meat, a cultivated meat company which says it is the first in the world to sell lab-grown meat, wrote on X it was “disappointed” by the new Florida law.

“In a state that purportedly prides itself on being a land of freedom and individual liberty, its government is now telling consumers what meat they can or cannot purchase,” it said.

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