JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Lab-grown meat would be banned in Florida under a new bill filed ahead of the 2024 legislative session and the effort has courted a strong ally: Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner.
Cultivated meat, or lab-grown meat, is produced using cells from a living animal, fertilized egg and a bank of stored cells.
Alicia Prygoski with the Animal Legal Defense Fund argued it’s more ethical than traditional meats and also more environmentally friendly, as large-scale livestock operations produce greenhouse gases like methane.
“Cultivated meat is real animal meat produced from animal cells without having to raise and kill living sentient beings,” said Prygoski.
But Florida lawmakers worry there are too many unknowns with lab-grown meat and have put forth a bill threatening up to 60-days in jail a $500 fine for individuals who sell, manufacture or distribute the products in the state.
Establishments like restaurants and stores could also be issued stop sale orders and face disciplinary actions for violations.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson told Action News Jax he supports the effort.
“We don’t have ten years, or we don’t have three or four years of testing on some of those items, but certainly we don’t have a decade or two decades to know what that’s gonna do to our human systems. And so, we’re very protective of agriculture, what we believe the way it should be,” said Simpson.
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But as Prygoski pointed out, the USDA has already given approval to some lab-grown meat products and the industry is moving forward, whether or not Florida comes along for the ride.
“Really, a ban on cultivated meat is a ban on innovation. Hard stop. This will entrench us in an unsustainable polluting industry that profits off animal suffering and farmworker exploitation,” said Prygoski.
For the Impossible Whopper fans out there, the bill would not impact artificial meat products, so you’d be safe.
However, the legislation still has a long way to go before any sci-fi food items could potentially be banned from the menu.