Ron DeSantis Supports Legislation Banning Lab-Grown Meat

February 5, 2024   |   Tags: , ,
Ron DeSantis and lab-grown meat. | Illustration: Lex Villena; GOOD Meat, Miami Herald

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made a name for himself backing culture-war-focused legislative proposals that have taken aim at everything from Disney to college professors' academic freedom. However, DeSantis has a new target in his sights: lab-grown meat.

Last Friday, DeSantis came out in support of Florida legislation that would ban the sale of lab-grown meat in the state. 

"I know the Legislature's doing a bill to try to protect our meat. You need meat, OK? We're going to have meat in Florida," DeSantis said during a Friday press conference. "We're going to have fake meat? That doesn't work. We're going to make sure to do it right. But there's a whole ideological agenda that's coming after, I think, a lot of important parts of our society."

DeSantis was likely referencing House Bill 435 and Senate Bills 586 and 1084. All three bills, which are in the early stages of the legislative process, would ban the manufacture or sale of lab-grown meat—also known as "cultivated meat"—in the state of Florida.

While the bills' supporters say they're necessary to protect Florida's cattle industry, lab-grown meat isn't going to be taking over traditional animal products any time soon. While the Food and Drug Administration gave two companies' cultivated meat the green light in 2022 and 2023, both products only had small restaurant-based launches. As of February 2024, neither is available for sale anywhere in the U.S. (though I managed to snag a bite of GOOD Meat's cultivated chicken at China Chilcano in D.C. before it was discontinued).

That doesn't necessarily mean that lab-grown meat startups are—ahem—dead meat. Rather, as plant-based meat investor Steve Molino told WIRED, the purpose of the early restaurant-based launches was likely primarily to raise awareness of the product before ramping up large-scale production. "It accomplished what it needed to accomplish and now it's time to refocus," Molino said.

Even though cultivated meat isn't even available in the United States, let alone Florida, that hasn't kept it from becoming a magnet for culture war hawks.

Lab-grown meat is an "affront to nature and creation," Rep. Tyler Sirois (R–Merritt Island), who introduced H.B. 435, told Politico last November. "I think you could see a very slippery slope here leading to things like cloning, which are very troubling to me."

However, like many attempts to curb vegan alternatives to meat and dairy, DeSantis' support for these bills is also aimed at protecting animal farmers from competition—even if such competition is basically hypothetical.

In March 2023, congressional lawmakers revived the DAIRY PRIDE Act, which aims to restrict sales of plant-based milk alternatives by banning manufacturers from using phrases like "milk," "yogurt," and "cheese" to market their products. 

"Pennsylvania's dairy farmers are at the heart of our community and critical to our economy," Sen. John Fetterman (D–Penn.) wrote in November, adding that the DAIRY PRIDE Act, would "protect our dairy farmers by prohibiting non-dairy products from using dairy names."

The post Ron DeSantis Supports Legislation Banning Lab-Grown Meat appeared first on Reason.com.


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