Growing beef about ‘fake’ meat: Senate passes ban of lab-grown meat
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

022124 Cultured Meat 02
Advocates for alternative proteins outside of the state said the impact of the Florida ban will ripple nationwide.

Cultivated meat, or meat grown from animal cells in a lab, is on the verge of being outlawed in Florida, after the Senate voted 26-10 this week to ban its production in the state.

“We know what beef is,” said Dusty Holley, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association’s director of field services. “We spent decades and decades making sure that we produced the most safe and wholesome products in the world,” Holley said.

The Florida Cattlemen’s Association supported the legislative action, which includes banning the manufacture for sale, sale and distribution of cultivated meat in the state. Violators would be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor — punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine — and an immediate stop-sale order.

The measure was awaiting action in the House, where a companion bill had already passed through three legislative committee votes.

The difference between cultivated meat and conventional meat, Holley said, is the years worth of regulation and inspection conventional meat has had. He doesn’t want cultivated meat to be labeled the same way as conventionally grown meat, he said.

Cultivated meat is regulated by federal safety inspectors, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Last year, the USDA approved the sale and distribution of cultivated chicken from two California-based companies. However, consumer access to cultivated meat across the country remains minimal.

Cultivated meat isn’t generally available yet for sale to consumers and there is debate among scientists that it ever will be economically viable. It currently costs more to produce cultivated meat than it does to produce conventional meat, said Tom Rossmeissl, the head of brand marketing for Eat Just, one of the cultivated meat companies approved by the USDA.

“We’re in the early stages of this technology,” Rossmeissl said.

Most of the funding that goes into the cultivated meat industry is from private investment, said David Voorman, vice president of political action committee Food Solutions Action.

“We’ve gotten a letter signed by investors who say that this Florida bill really hurts their desire to want to contribute and to invest in this industry,”  he said.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jay Collins, a Tampa Republican and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, works full-time as the chief programs officer for Operation BBQ Relief, a nonprofit that provides conventional meat to disaster-affected communities.

In 2020, Florida’s agriculture sector reported $7.4 billion in sales, with 12.8% of that figure coming from sales of cattle, poultry and other livestock. Nearly 50% of Florida’s agricultural land is used for beef cattle production.

The cultivated meat ban in Florida will have “a huge chilling effect” on jobs and research, said Drake Jamali, legislative specialist at the nonprofit Good Food Institute, an advocacy group for “alternative protein innovation” which spent nearly $3 million lobbying on the issue since 2018, according to its tax returns.

“A lot of the bill sponsors have said this won’t impact research,” he said. “That’s a matter of debate.”

Dyadic International, a Florida-based biotechnology company, creates some of the substances used to produce the cultured animal cells in cultivated meat.

Jamali said the bill wouldn’t prevent Dyadic from doing research, but if passed, he thinks it may affect the company’s wishes to sell its research and development to other companies.

Dyadic executives declined to comment for the record.

Aleph Farms, a cellular agriculture company, partnered with the International Space Station in 2019 to grow the first cultured meat in space.

An earlier version of the bill included an amendment banning the research of cultivated meat. But the amendment failed after opponents said banning research would affect the space industry, which is looking at cultivated meat for long-term space flights.

Advocates for alternative proteins outside of the state said the impact of the Florida ban will ripple nationwide.

Eat Just, a food company in San Francisco, was one of just two corporations approved to sell cultivated chicken in the country. The only place its cultivated chicken is available for tasting is at the company’s California headquarters.

“It’s sort of ironic that Florida — a state that really prides itself and individual liberty — is considering a law that will actually just restrict consumers from having a choice of what they want to buy,” said Rossmeissl, Eat Just’s marketing head. “The consumer should be able to decide.”

Wildtype, a California-based cultivated seafood company, is one of over 150 companies around the world developing cultivated food, specifically cultivated salmon. Its co-founders, Justin Kolbeck and Aryé Elfenbein, came to Florida to meet with legislators and speak against the bill.

“This bill will not protect American jobs when it comes to seafood,” Kolbeck said. “It’d be putting companies like ours out of business.”

Florida has one of the largest seafood and aquaculture industries in the country. Kolbeck said that being barred from selling cultivated seafood in Florida would lead to “collateral damage to the seafood industry.”

News of a potential statewide ban on cultivated food has already raised concerns among the company’s investors, Kolbeck said. “The whole thing is just fear mongering.”

Elfenbein, who studies and develops cultivated seafood at Wildtype, said he was baffled to hear about concerns over safety.

“There’s just this attempt to discredit what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s been a very kind of diffuse argument of we don’t know what we don’t know.”

In Alabama, a bill that would ban cultivated meat has been passed in its state Senate and moved to the state House Feb. 15. In Texas, a cultured meat labeling law was passed last year. In Arizona, a bill about strict labeling regulations for cultured meat was approved in the House. Texas and Arizona have also had a cultivated meat ban bill introduced in their Legislatures.
This story was produced by Fresh Take Business, a news service covering business news from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected].

Fresh Take Florida


  • Dangerous Florida Unsafe For Children

    March 2, 2024 at 5:18 am

    Florida teenager Madeline Soto, who was reported missing earlier this week, was found dead on Friday, authorities announced.

    The 13-year-old’s remains were located around 4:30 p.m. in a wooded area in Osceola County with similar clothing she had on before she disappeared, according to police.

    Madeline’s mother’s boyfriend Stephan Sterns, 37, has been named the “prime suspect” in the case. He was the last person to see her alive after she never showed up to school on Monday, when she was first reported missing.

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

    March 2, 2024 at 7:59 am

    Good morn’ting Florida,
    On to the “Fake Meat” topic:
    We already have a pretty large selection of “Fake Meat” in all Florida Supermarkets frozen foods sections ….. go ahead ….. buy some ….. of course it will suck but as a “Dook 4 Brains Lefty” you are “Required” to pretend you like those products ….. so thats where we are with the existing “Fake Meat” ….. we’ve had it for years get you some and ptetend you *as a Dook 4 Brains Lefty* love it.
    What our Sage Legislation is trying to ban has not yet hit Florida Supermarkets yet. Its not healthy as its made from maggotts raised in human poo and gross stuff like that.
    Even though only Dook 4 Brains Leftys would consider eating it thats why we are banning it. Because the Sage Patriots in The Florida Legislature see this as necessary to protect you Dook 4 Brains Leftys from poisioning yourselves.
    This Sage Legislation is 100% intended to save all of Florida’s Dook 4 Brains Leftys from harming themselves as survays prove that not even one Sage Patriot in The Great State of Florida would even consider purchasing and eating that deadly poison.
    Thank you Florida,
    Earl Pitts “Saving Leftys From Themselves” American

    • JD

      March 2, 2024 at 12:37 pm

      Ah, sunny Florida, land of the free and home of the… ban on futuristic meat? Yup, Governor DeSantis and the legislative squad are drawing the line at lab-grown meat, ensuring Floridians stick to the good old-fashioned farm-raised variety. Because, you know, nothing screams “protecting the public” like keeping those potentially life-saving, environmentally friendly meats off your plate.

      And let’s be clear, it’s not like Floridians are strangers to “fake meat” – the freezer aisles are practically a faux meat fiesta. But heaven forbid science finds a way to make meat without the moo. Fear not, lefties, the Sage Patriots are here to save you from the horrors of high-tech nutrition!

      Since you’ve never had the “fake meat” they are referring to, just shut the f*ck up and stop talking out of your relaxed bung hole. Don’t you have a task to do?

      • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

        March 2, 2024 at 5:41 pm

        Good evening JD,
        Review indicates you are dangerously deficent in Sage Wisdom.
        In order to maintain our looking the other way when you get off the rails with your postings here at our Beloved F. P. , ran by the Sage Peter who we love, you are hereby sentanced to read my Sage posting of Upper Level Knowledge (right above your annoying Butt-In-Skee post of smelly brown) and re-read MY POST every 15 minutes until you pass-out in a drunken stuper.
        Thanks JD,
        Earl Pitts American

    • rick whitaker

      March 3, 2024 at 5:23 pm

      earl, you foolish punk, i have been a vegetarian for 55 years and i never get sick, so your lies, misinformation, or garbage that you spew about the subject makes you look stupid. i know, i know, you don’t care if people know your stupid. go suck on a hog sphincter.

  • Michael K

    March 2, 2024 at 11:03 am

    What are the cattle ranchers so afraid of – and why are our legislators cow-towing (pun intended) to them at the expense of future sustainability?

    If they were smart, they might join forces and revolutionize the industry, as is bound to happen anyway.

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 2, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    It’s witchcraft! Burn the witches!

Comments are closed.


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