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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

Florida Senate bans sale of cell-based meat within the state

On 29 February, the Florida Senate approved a bill banning the sale and consumption of cell-based meat within the US state.

The news comes after Florida House Republican Tyler Sirios introduced a bill in November, aiming to make it illegal to manufacture, sell, hold or distribute cell-based meat within Florida state.

The approval of the bill makes Florida the first US state to ban cell-based meat. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 26-10 to pass the bill named SB 1084.

Bill sponsor Jay Collins said research over time might show that cell-based meat is viable, but right now “there’s no guarantee of safety for the consumer”.

“We believe that our beef grows from a cow on the ground that eats grass, generates beef when we slaughter it. Same thing with pigs, same thing with chickens,” Collins, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said. “This [cell-based meat] is a product grown in the lab.”

However, Senator Jason Pizzo said that federal regulations are in place for cell-based meat and that, while he would not volunteer to eat it, “we actually need to feed people, and it's viable”.

Senator Tina Polsky said that cell-based meat is an “emerging industry” that has drawn interest from Israel and China, and that the ban could result in technology companies deciding against locating in Florida.

She added: “The cultivated meat industry is in its infancy, but it's clear that it could become an important part of meeting an increasing demand for protein as a worldwide population grows and certainly it is in this state. Studies have shown that cultivated meat has health benefits, reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses, allows precise control over fat content, does not involve the use of growth hormones and also has been shown to have tremendous environmental benefits.”

Meat Institute North American Meat Association has argued that the ban will damage Florida’s food economy. The association sent a letter to Governer Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders, stating that a ban on cell-ag would violate the free-market principles that the state normally upholds.

Mark Dopp, CEO and General Council for the Meat Institute, said consumers should have a choice whether to add cell-based meat to their diet. “The Meat Institute is agnostic regarding whether Floridians will buy cell-cultivated meat products. Perhaps they will; perhaps they will not,” Dopp said. “But restricting the sale and manufacture of cell cultivated meat products limits consumer choice and denies Floridians access to food options.”

The Meat Institute letter noted that the US Department of Agriculture has already approved cell-based meat and established a regulatory process for its inspection.

“Decisions about what to consume or purchase should be left to the market and consumers, not dictated by legislation that hampers progress and competition,” Dopp wrote. His letter questioned whether the state has the constitutional authority to override federal authority on the regulation of food.

A similar dilemma is currently being debated in Italy, where the Government banned cell-based meat last year. The European Commission has stated that Italy violated a key EU scrutiny procedure by passing its ban on cell-based meat before the Commission or member states could assess whether it violated internal market rules.


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