A Florida House committee approved a bill restricting the sale of cultivated meat with an exemption for scientific research, amid concerns over market regulation and health.
A bill that would curb the sale of cultivated meat in Florida was approved by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Committee on Monday, though with an amendment that allows for scientific research.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Danny Alvarez, would ban the sale and production of cultivated products in Florida following calls made in November by Rep. Tyler Sirois, who referred to lab-grown products as an “affront to nature.” Commission of Agriculture Wilton Simpson pledged support for the initiative, referencing potential health hazards due to a “largely unregulated market.”
“The world is not collapsing. What we are doing is putting the safety of Floridians first,” said Alvarez on Monday. “The federal government says it’s safe, but we’re asking ‘is it?’ It hasn’t even been a full year since they were allowed to hit the market … Florida is closed for experimentation on our citizens.”
The committee endorsed an amendment to clarify the bill, allowing continued research into cultivated meat, highlighted by Rep. Thad Altman as an emerging biotech field on the Space Coast. This amendment ensures that studies on alternative food sources for astronauts, a key area of interest, can advance without hindrance.
“The Florida agriculture industry has a huge impact on our economy,” said Rep. Thad Altman, who voted favorably on the bill. “I think it’s prudent to move about this in a very deliberate way.”
Despite the amendment, public speakers representing businesses and interest groups across the state signaled concern over the wide-reaching breadth of the bill, contending that cultivated meat is necessary considering an incongruent population acceleration of humans compared to cattle and other livestock.
“A couple of weeks ago you were up here talking about protecting our cattlemen and ranchers and farmers and I couldn’t agree more that we take care of our people,” said Justin Kolbeck, the Owner and CEO of Wildtype, a cultivated seafood manufacturer. “However, banning cultivated meat is not the way to do it.”
Kolbeck also told lawmakers that a ban on cultivated seafood would serve to deepen the United States’ dependence on foreign economies given that it imports between 70 to 85 percent of its seafood products annually.
“This ban will create Chinese jobs at the expense of small businesses like mine,” he continued. “It will also stifle innovation in Florida as investment dollars are redirected toward more business-friendly states.”