Lawmakers put ‘lab meats’ under microscope

Photo courtesy: UPSIDE Foods

The Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee has taken up House Bill 1071

The bill,   sponsored by Rep. Danny Alvarez, R-Tampa, concentrates on the manufacturing and distribution of cultivated meats — also known as “lab meats” — in Florida. 

According to the Good Food Institute, cultivated meat is produced directly from cells. The process of cultivating meat uses the basic elements needed to build muscle and fat and enables the same biological process that happens inside an animal.

 Cultivated meat is identical to conventional meat at the cellular level, according to the institute.

 This process, which omits the need to gather, raise and kill animals ,is fairly new but has not deterred the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) from improving the consumption of some types of it. 

Alvarez shared his views about the proposed bill in an interview with Fox 13 News, where he said, “We don’t even know how it will affect our DNA or our biome.”

He also raised concerns on the multitude of fresh meat farms that Florida already has. “In Florida, we have over 15,000 producers of homegrown cattle and beef,” he said.

Population growth has also been a socioeconomic conflict that representatives like Anna Eskanani, a Democrat from Orlando, have expressed concerns about. 

According to Fox 13 News, Eskamani said, “We need to be proactive for population growth,” she said. Though real meat is plentiful now, she said that in a couple decades, this will not be the case. 

On Anna for Florida, Eskamani’s campaign website, she said, “This (the ban) would also disadvantage the Florida economy as companies that create cultured meat move operations out of the state and other states will be able to secure a comparative advantage. As the cultured meat industry grows, we will be at a severe disadvantage because our state will have forced the industry out.” 

Upside Foods, formally known as the first cultivated meat company, aims to grow sustainable cultured meat. According to Brooke Whitney, head of media at UPSIDE Foods:

“UPSIDE strongly opposes the proposed bill aiming to criminalize cultivated meat in Florida, as it threatens the free market, stifles innovation, and limits consumer choice. This legislation not only jeopardizes the United States’ leadership in biotechnology and Florida’s supply chain, but it also hinders our ability to address the projected doubling of global meat demand by 2050. Importantly, cultivated meat is regulated by the FDA and USDA and is subject to the same oversight as conventionally produced meat. Our opposition extends beyond our industry; even members of the conventional meat sector stand against it. We urge policymakers to reconsider, recognizing the broader consequences on the economy, innovation, and consumer freedom in Florida.” 

USF Health Doctor John Sinnott provided a timeline of two years before the meat will potentially hit store shelves. Sinnott said, “When you grow cells in a cultured dish, there can be unexpected mutations.”

There have been no further updates or evidence that proves there are possible mutations On one hand, consumers of regular meat are weary of the process of growing meat out of a lab. On the other hand, people favor the lower prices and positive environmental effects of the cultivated meat.

On Thursday 22, HB 1071 was considered favorable with Committee Substitute (CS) by the Infrastructure Strategies Committee. 

To keep up with updates and information on HB 1071 look for more information on the Florida Senate website.

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