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Efforts to Prohibit Lab-Grown Meat Gain Momentum in Conservative States

via PBS NewsHour
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Republican lawmakers in several US states have introduced legislation to ban the production and sale of cultivated or lab-grown meat, a form of meat cultivated from animal cells rather than slaughtered livestock.

This comes as the first cultivated meat product – cultured chicken – was approved by US regulators for human consumption.

Supporters argue cultivated meat can help meet growing global demand for meat in a more sustainable way.

However, the bills view it as an affront to traditional meat industries, which have backed the proposed bans.

The legislation comes amid a broader political backlash against new technologies and reflects efforts to protect domestic agriculture.

“Some folks would probably like to eat bugs with Bill Gates, but not me,” Tennessee state representative Bud Hulsey said.

“I think the Nuremberg code was all set up so you would not experiment on human people with new products and new experimentations without it being tested and tried and found out what it can do,” he said. “We just came through Covid with an experimental shot that had a whole lot more problems than anyone wanted to talk about.”

Cultivated meat producers counter that bans would stifle innovation and restrict consumer choice.

They have raised billions from investors like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos to develop alternative proteins.

“Some people want to essentially kill this baby in the cradle,” said Paul Shapiro, chief executive of Better Meat.

“People in the national security field are now starting to wonder, ‘are we going to allow Asia to win the future of food technology?’” Shapiro said. 

These bills “are very transparent about the motivation, which is to protect a conventional industry that is important to the state. No one is disputing that”, said Sean Edgett, chief legal officer of Upside Foods. “The method in which they are protecting that existing industry is making a choice for consumers.”

“We have always thought of ourselves as an ‘and’. It is not about stopping conventional [meat] — it is really about having alternatives out there.”

“You have a meat industry that is afraid of innovation and is seeking to lobby lawmakers to ban this innovation,” Shapiro said. “It would be similar to Blockbuster lobbying lawmakers to try to ban streaming video.”

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