Florida bans lab-grown meat: here’s what it means


Florida food nuts looking for meat alternatives will have to stick to Impossible Burgers after Governor Ron DeSantis banned the state’s growing lab-grown meat industry.

DeSantis was in Wauchula, in the heart of one of Florida’s largest livestock counties, on Wednesday, May 1, to sign SB 1084, which he touted as the first law to protect farmers and the “integrity of American agriculture.” . .”

Lab-grown meat, also known as ‘cultured meat’ or ‘cultured meat’, is a meat alternative made from animal stem cells. The first cultivated beef was eaten in 2013 and the industry has expanded to about 60 startups around the world aiming to make the meat by 2023.

The movement around finding meat alternatives has grown as the environmental and ethical impacts of the food industry have been questioned. The economic and environmental impacts of laboratory meat are still largely unknown; according to a 2021 analysis, laboratory beef would cost between $17 and $23 per pound to produce, compared to $5 for natural beef. But the growth potential in the sector makes many people curious. This is what we know:

Why does DeSantis ban lab-grown meat?

In signing the bill, DeSantis said the bill would “save our beef,” referring to those who like to eat real beef, yes, but especially Florida’s cattle industry. The state produced 862,000 cattle for beef production in 2024, which ranked ninth in the country. Nearly half of the state’s farmland is dedicated to livestock, according to the University of Florida’s Range Cattle Research & Education Center, and cattle sales and breeding stock sales generate a total economic impact of more than $900 million annually , according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

DeSantis also took shots at liberals who advocate “fake meat” as a way to combat climate change and at world leaders like those at the World Economic Forum, an international nongovernmental organization in Switzerland, which has advocated insects as an alternative edible food. protein source instead of animal proteins.

Insects are considered delicacies in some cultures, and since 2017 baseball fans at Seattle Mariners games have been able to buy roasted grasshoppers, also called chapulines in Mexico, as a protein-rich snack.

Which states have banned laboratory meat?

Florida is the first state to ban cultured meat. According to news reports, similar measures are underway in Arizona, Alabama and Tennessee.

Why can’t we eat laboratory meat? Is it safe?

There are still questions about the health effects of laboratory meat, although the Food and Drug Administration said in 2022 that it is safe to eat and the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave approval in 2023.

There have been several rumors surrounding cultured meat that have been debunked, including:

Is laboratory-grown meat actually worse for the environment?

The environmental benefits of cultured meat compared to natural meat are still unknown. As production of laboratory meat increases, more energy will be required to make and store it. The energy required for mass production of cultured meat could ultimately be more than what the current meat industry consumes.

Red meat production in particular has been shown to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and to climate change. According to a 2020 study in the National Institutes of Health, livestock farming is “a significant contributor to global climate change, contributing between 12% and 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions.” Cattle also contribute to the water footprint and water scarcity in certain regions.

“Therefore, it is clear that there is an urgent need to change current lifestyle and consumption habits, not only for the health of the planet, but also for one’s own human health,” the study said.

Are animals killed for laboratory meat?

Making cultured meat does not involve slaughter. However, scientists can take cells from slaughtered cattle to make the meat. A 2023 CNN article suggests that people with religious or ethical reasons for not eating meat should look deeper into where their lab-grown burger comes from before trying it.

Does laboratory meat taste like real meat?

As with any food, it depends on who made it. Reviews for Upside Foods’ cultured chicken were largely positive, with one reviewer from the MIT Technology Review saying “although the bites I slowly chewed and considered were still softer than a chicken breast, they were definitely more chicken-like than other alternatives I’ve tried.” tried.” An Associated Press review said, “Tastes like chicken.”

Is the Impossible burger made in a lab?

Impossible Meat is plant-based and therefore exempt from Florida’s ban.

Are you still vegan if you eat cultured meat?

Cultured meat is still derived from animal cells and therefore cannot be considered vegan. But an article from VegNews shows that a poll from the dating app Veggly found that 24% of vegans asked would be open to eating lab-grown meat, as there is no slaughter involved.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this story. Ana Goñi-Lessan is the State Watchdog Reporter for USA TODAY – Florida and can be reached at [email protected].