Senate, House committees prepare cultivated meat bans for floor votes

Cultured meat concept, a laboratory setting presents a petri dish nurturing lab-grown meat, promising sustainable food solutions. Generative AI
Legislation allows for scientific research, but not for the sale of meat for public consumption.

Both chambers of the Legislature moved a step closer to banning lab-made meat in Florida. But lawmakers have adjusted legislation to allow research into the burgeoning field.

The legislation in both chambers drew criticism from across the political spectrum. The House Infrastructure Strategies Committee advanced the ban, part of a larger Agriculture Department legislative package (HB 1071), but on a narrow 12-10 vote. Later the same day, the Senate Rules Committee voted up on a companion bill (SB 1084).

That means both bills are ready for floor votes in their respective chambers, which would make Florida the first state in the union to support a complete ban on the product.

Rep. Daniel Alvarez, a Tampa Republican, defended the move to ban the sale of cultivated meat completely, though he acknowledged that it likely won’t last forever. But he said it will be at least five years before the food will even be widely available commercially, and lawmakers have time to revisit the issue.

“I want a free market that tells me when I put a product in Publix, I know that it is safe and secure,” Alvarez said.

But critics of the legislation say the bill will stifle a burgeoning biotech industry’s presence in Florida. That included Republicans on the committee.

Rep. Jim Mooney, an Islamorada Republican, said there’s plenty of meat on plates imported from around the world that gives him pause. So why sound alarms about meat cultivated in safe U.S. laboratories?

“We don’t want to eat Chinese food that’s going to be on our plates ultimately down the road and that’s a scary, scary thought,” Mooney said. “Tilapia. You ever seen how it’s raised in Vietnam? So you know how I feel on this.”

The legislation has been supported by traditional agriculture, including the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. But investors, researchers and entrepreneurs have said it’s a mistake to bar the product entirely.

Just this week, the North American Meat Institute sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders. That group is the largest and longest standing trade association for meatpackers, and opponents of the legislation said the undermined suggestion cellular agriculture poses a threat to traditional farming.

“Legislators and others who beat the ‘food safety’ drum in support of HB 1071 and SB 1084 do so at their peril, and the peril of others, because these bills establish a precedent for adopting policies and regulatory requirements that could one day adversely affect the bills’ supporters,” the Meat Institute letter reads.

Critics note the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already approved consumption of the product

But Sen. Jay Collins, a Tampa Republican, said Florida has reason to express more caution than the federal government has shown.

“We’re saying we want more testing, more safety data before we allow this to be sold in Florida, just because the (Food and Drug Administration) has allowed it,” Collins said, acknowledging that he doesn’t foresee the ban lasting “forever.”

Only two restaurants in the country right now serve cultivated meat, one in San Francisco and another in Washington, and both sell lab-grown white meats.

Meanwhile, research into cultivation of meat remains ongoing at a number of universities and institutions in Florida. The University of Florida and University of Miami both have studies underway, as do Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and NASA facilities in Cape Canaveral.

Sponsors in both chambers amended bills to allow for research to continue.

Democrats in the Senate welcomed that shift, but feared if the sale of meat remains banned, it will hurt research efforts.

“I’m not sure why we would in the Free State of Florida we’re trying to stop a whole new industry,” said Sen. Lori Berman, a Boynton Beach Democrat.

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].


  • Dont Say FLA

    February 22, 2024 at 9:24 pm

    Perfection of lab made meat techniques is a huge threat to the G0P’s viability which already clings to the thinnest thread imaginable.

    You see, if incels could get some lab made meat injected in their pants, they might not be incels anymore. What happens next? They leave the G0P and become regular functioning people.

    Ergo, Today’s G0P platform proclaims, “Lab made meat is teh devil!”

    • Michael K

      February 22, 2024 at 10:25 pm

      I doubt any of our legislators could stomach working in an industrial animal slaughter factory. I just can’t understand how you can “allow” the research but preemptively “ban” the sale? Huh?

      Another solution searching for a problem, unless you’re a cattle lobbyist?

  • Linwood Wright

    February 23, 2024 at 1:18 am

    Free Market, Invisible Hand, yada yada yada, and all that Bull$h1t.
    This is obviously all to appease some big donor in the cattle industry.

    But whatever. Some other much more forward thinking state will go all in this and hopefully succeed without Big Government Anti-Business regulations strangling them like they do here in Flori-duh.

  • Incels of floridumb

    February 23, 2024 at 5:37 am

    I’ve loaned money to Dean Food, Smithfield as well as Land O Lakes. They are low-margin, poor-credit companies that rely on low-income folks (people bought pork & sausages through every hard time, still do).

    An alternative is coming; they are nearly squeezed out of being viable.

  • Peter Wood

    February 29, 2024 at 11:46 am

    Boy, those “Freedum” loving Republicans sure love to ban things!

Comments are closed.


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