Florida House approves ban on lab-grown meat sales

by | Mar 6, 2024

The Florida House passed legislation banning the commercial sale of lab-grown meat, the first of its kind in the U.S.

The Florida House passed legislation on Wednesday that includes the United States’ first outright ban on the commercial sale of lab-grown or cultivated meat.

Under the proposed law, the manufacture, sale, or distribution of cultivated meat would be prohibited within the state of Florida. Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson pledged support for the initiative in January, referencing potential health hazards due to a “largely unregulated market.”

The bill spurred moments of debate during the floor session, with supporters like Rep. Dean Black contending that it protects conventional agricultural practices and consumer health

“[cultivated meat] in no way replicates the actual chemistry of meat,” he said. “It lacks the natural resistance to bacteria and viruses that we don’t even test for. You can create this and a bacteria can run through it and evolve into something toxic to humans, and you would never know because we don’t test for it.”

However, the bill’s critics, including Rep. Christine Hunschofsky countered that there’s no evidence to suggest that cultivated meat poses any greater safety risk than traditional meat. She further argued that stifling cultivated meat production could restrict consumer choices and slow the state’s adaptation to sustainable food solutions.

“Right now, the product isn’t even sold in the state of Florida and wouldn’t even become possible or viable as a market product until at least 2030 when we would have an increased population that would not have their protein needs met would with the current protein production we have,” Hunschofsky said.

The representative also expressed reservations regarding potential long-term economic effects of the ban.

“I think it will deter future manufacturers from coming to Florida because they don’t know what day of the week that the legislature will be okay with them being in the state.” she said. “Safety always comes first. But when we have safety, we then have to make sure that we are supporting our businesses.”

During a committee stop last month, Justin Kolbeck, the Owner and CEO of Wildtype, a cultivated seafood manufacturer, 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 said. “It will also stifle innovation in Florida as investment dollars are redirected toward more business-friendly states.”

The legislation also seeks to centralize the regulation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at the state level, barring local governments from enacting individual policies. This aspect of the bill has drawn further criticism for potentially hindering the development of EV infrastructure and affecting Florida cities’ attractiveness to high-tech businesses.

“We know that EVs are the vehicles of the future and many local communities are working hard to add charging stations,” said Rep. Lindsay Cross. “Shifting this responsibility to the state will slow this progress and may reduce competitiveness of our cities that drive our economies and are actively recruiting high paying businesses to our state.”


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