States banning lab-grown meat as market grows

Florida and Alabama implement bans within days of each other.
Protein Problem Future Food Singapore
Posted at 11:42 AM, May 14, 2024

In the last few weeks, Florida and Alabama have enacted bans on cell-cultivated meat. Both states' legislatures passed laws banning lab-grown meat by large margins.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he signed the bill in response to a World Economic Forum report advocating for lab-grown meat. The report said this food could help alleviate food insecurity and reduce greenhouse emissions.

“Today, 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,” said DeSantis. “Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef.”

A chef prepares Good Meat's cultivated chicken.

Food and Drink

How can meat be grown and cultivated in a lab?

James Packard
4:44 PM, Jul 22, 2023

The World Economic Forum says food production has taken a toll on mankind.

"Animal agriculture is a crucial source of nutrition for billions of people, but many of its conventional practices have passed their maximum scale," the report says. "The food production systems that fed 1.6 billion people at the turn of the 20th-century are today stretched thin trying to feed 8 billion people and counting."

Between 2018 and 2022, nine states — Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming — implemented various standards requiring makers of lab-grown meat to clearly state that products do not contain ordinary meat.

What is cell-cultivated meat?

The Congressional Research Service says it "involves producing meat cells in a lab from an initial sample of animal muscle cells that do not require animals to be slaughtered."

There are five steps needed in producing this meat: (1) taking a biopsy of animal cells, (2) cell banking, (3) cell growth, (4) harvesting, and (5) food processing.

The Food and Drug Administration noted in 2023 lab-grown meat that manufacturers are working to bring it to a scale where it can be competitively priced. The FDA gave approval to manufacturers last year as companies began investing in its technology.

How much is being invested

According to a Congressional report, the private sector invested roughly $3 billion worldwide between 2010 and 2022. This is in addition to $5 million in research grants from the National Science Foundation and $12 million from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The report notes that Upside Foods has been the largest investor in the technology, having footed $400 million in 2022.

Soon after the FDA's proposal, Upside Foods boasted about being the first company to sell a cultivated meat product.

"Our findings show that Upside's chicken has color, flavor, and texture attributes that match conventional chicken," Upside said last year. "Some differences were observed in the intensity of these attributes, though all within the range of conventional chicken. This suggests that Upside chicken – as it stands today – can provide a comparable sensory experience to conventional chicken. It’s no secret that our ultimate goal is to match or beat the flavor of conventional chicken, and we’re working hard every day toward that goal."