Senate committee advances total ban on cultivated meat
Good Meats cultivated chicken. Image via AP.

Cultivated chicken
The prohibition is part of a larger agriculture package.

A ban on cultivated meat advanced in the Senate despite concerns from investors in the emerging technology.

Sen. Jay Collins, a Tampa Republican, said Florida does not need to wait for federal guidance to impose a complete ban on the sale or manufacture of meat in laboratory settings. If officials feel more confident in the product in the future, he said lawmakers can revisit the matter then.

“We want to ban it and you can scale back from there,” he said. “Let’s go to the most invasive. We can come back as the science shows that this is safe.”

The cultivated meat ban advanced as part of a larger legislative package (SB 1084) covering priorities for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Senate Agriculture, Environment, and General Government Appropriations Committee moved the bill forward on a 6-3 party-line vote.

Should the bill become law, Florida would be the first nation in the country to completely ban cultivated meat.

Similar legislation (HB 1071) has also moved forward unfettered in the House, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled his support.

But Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, said DeSantis and others have mischaracterized cellular agriculture as a threat to traditional agriculture.

“I feel like this is a political boogeyman,” Polsky said. “The Governor said out on the campaign trail, ‘We’re not going to ban meat in our state.’ I don’t see any of these people making cultivated meat banning meat. It could be called wild meat. It could be exotic. There is never going to be a shortage of people who want poultry and cattle and fish.”

The ban has been championed by the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and traditional livestock companies.

But the business interests speaking at the Senate hearing all represented the burgeoning field of lab-grown meat. They noted the Food and Drug Administration already has approved the technology in the U.S. — two restaurants already operate in Washington and San Francisco respectively serving cultivated meat — and that manufacturers are working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the quality of products.

Marc Shelley, chief legal officer for Believer Meats, said his company has worked closely with scientists in Israel, suggesting the growth industry would boost relations with that allied nation. He also said other states like North Carolina have incentivized meat cultivation there.

“We will be regulated by the USDA. They will regulate us because they view our product as real chicken. We will be held to the same standards as conventional chicken.”

Regardless, Collins’ bill would treat any research, creation or sale of such products as a misdemeanor. Collins defended that step as important to hold companies accountable. Florida, he said, should not allow the product until there’s far greater confidence it is safe to consume.

“Until we have those studies, and there’s proof positive that this process is going to work, we want to ban that here in the state of Florida because it’s just not there quite yet,” he said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


8 comments

  • My Take

    February 8, 2024 at 4:38 pm

    Rsearch as a crime?!
    What a transparent stooge of the cattlemens’ clan.

  • Joe

    February 8, 2024 at 4:40 pm

    Once again, the party of “small government, free market, freedom from regulation, etc” proves their most-cherished ideology is doing whatever their biggest industry lobbyists tell them to. These craven hypocrites are absolutely owned by their many special-interest paymasters.

    • Joe

      February 8, 2024 at 4:44 pm

      And of course, Jay Collins, like so many of his RepubliQan colleagues, has nothing resembling a law degree/education in his background, which makes it even more clear he just put his name on a bill authored by lobbyists (i.e. his campaign donors).

      Stop electing idiots, idiots!

  • Tom Palmer

    February 8, 2024 at 5:27 pm

    I feel better already, I think. Why do these clowns spend so much time on nothing issues?

  • Michael K

    February 8, 2024 at 5:45 pm

    And the beef lobby gives these Republican clowns how much money?

    Sheesh. What a bunch of losers.

  • My Take

    February 8, 2024 at 9:58 pm

    “Cultivated meat” is a clever name.
    “Lab-grown meat” is a turn off.
    .
    The cattlemen shouldn’t complain too much. The “meat” cells are fed their cattle! They are fed colllegen made from cattle hides coming from the slaughterhouse (plus a few other parts).

  • PeterH

    February 9, 2024 at 1:12 pm

    Florida’s motivation is obvious! Making “research” into the efficacy and safety of lab meat a criminal offense is an anathema to sound governance and the premonition of capitalism.

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

    • PeterH

      February 9, 2024 at 1:13 pm

      Promotion of capitalism!

Comments are closed.


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