The United States and Singapore have approved Lab-Grown Meat for human consumption

In an effort to protect its farming industry, its economy, and the health of its citizens, Italy recently became the first country to officially ban cultivated meat.

cultivated meat production
Cultivated meat, also known as lab-grown meat, is created in a lab through a five-step process in which stem cells from an animal are replicated and grown in a series of bioreactors before being blended with additives to create a more realistic texture. The meat cells are then drained in a centrifuge, formed, and packaged for distribution, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
In a Nov. 16 Facebook post, Italian Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida said, “In defense of health, of the Italian production system, of thousands of jobs, of our culture and tradition, with the law approved today, Italy is the first nation in the world to be safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food," according to an English translation.

The bill passed the Italian Senate by a measure of 159–53 and was supported by the country's agricultural groups, which worked to protect Italy's $10.1 billion meat-processing industry.

Efforts in the United States to block lab-grown meat, or to ensure that consumers know what they're buying, include a 2018 law in Missouri that prohibits plant-based and lab-grown food from being labeled as “meat.”

"​​This act also prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry," the law states.

On Nov. 13, Florida state Rep. Tyler Sirois filed a bill that aims to prohibit the "manufacturing, sale, holding, or distribution of cultivated meat" in the state.

"Farming and cattle are incredibly important industries to Florida," the Republican legislator told Politico. "So I think this is a very relevant discussion for our state to have."
Should the bill, HB 435, become law, restaurants and stores in violation could be fined up to $5,000, and manufacturers, processors, packers, or distributors who misrepresent or mislabel the food could be fined up to $10,000 per violation.

Wilton Simpson, commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is fully on board with Mr. Sirois's effort.

"Without this legislation, untested, potentially unsafe, and nearly unregulated laboratory-produced meat could be made available in Florida," Mr. Simpson said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

"One of my top responsibilities is ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of our food supply and protecting Florida’s consumers, and this proposal does just that.”

On Nov. 22, the measure moved to the Agriculture, Conservation, and Resiliency Subcommittee.

Cultivated Meat Market

So far, only two countries—the United States and Singapore—have approved cultivated meat for human consumption.
Research and Markets predicts that the global lab-grown meat market will reach nearly $2 billion by 2035. It lists 16 cultivated meat companies, five of which are based in the United States, three in Israel, two in the Netherlands, two in Singapore, and one each in China, India, the UK, and Switzerland.

"In 2025, the nuggets segment is expected to account for the largest share of the lab-grown meat market," Research and Markets states in its January analysis.

"The large market share of this segment is attributed to the increasing adoption of on-the-go lifestyles, the growing demand for snacking products, and the increasing demand for frozen products."

However, lab-grown burger patties are projected to register the highest compound annual growth rate from 2025 through 2035, according to the company.

In November 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had "completed its first pre-market consultation for a human food made from cultured animal cells."

On June 21, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted its first-ever approval to produce cell-cultured meat to two companies in the United States, Good Meat and Upside Food.

Good Meat—the cultivated meat brand of the food technology company Eat Just, Inc.—has manufacturing facilities in the United States and Singapore.

According to the company, the USDA approval allows for its first lab-grown chicken product to be produced and sold in the United States. Four months earlier, the company had received its "No Questions" letter from the FDA, which meant it passed a food safety review.

"Our first product is cultivated chicken that is prepared and served in multiple formats and was approved for sale in Singapore in 2020 and the United States in 2023," the company states on its website.

"We’re also working on other types of meat, including cultivated beef using cells from California pasture-raised cattle and Wagyu from the Toriyama farm in Japan."

Washington-based restaurant China Chilcano added a dish using Good Meat cultivated chicken to its menu in July.

Major investors in Good Meat are UBS O'Connor, a hedge fund management firm within UBS Asset Management, and the venture capital firms of Graphene Ventures and Singapore-based K3 Ventures.

Bill Gates has been a major investor in Upside Foods since its launch in 2017.

Upside Foods said its USDA approval clears the company to produce and sell its cultivated chicken. The company says it takes about three weeks to produce its chicken filet product.
"Not to get bogged down in semantics, but we can’t overstate this: We’re making meat!" the company states on its website. 

"Cultivated meat is a brand-new product category, so we understand that there’s a lot of confusion out there about what it is and what it isn’t. For one thing, cultivated meat is not vegan or vegetarian."

According to the company, its cell-cultivated chicken is made up of "more than 99 percent chicken cells."

The FDA approved Upside Foods to make its products in November 2022, based on a self-assessment by Upside of its processes and risk management practices.

"We did not identify a basis for concluding that the production process as described would be expected to result in food that bears or contain any substance or microorganism that would adulterate the food," the FDA states in its approval.

"We have no questions at this time about Upside’s conclusion that foods comprised of, or containing, cultured chicken cell material resulting from the production process defined ... are as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods."

Lab Meat Advocates

Advocates of lab-grown meat claim it's healthier for humans, kinder to animals, and better for the environment.

Nicolas Treich is an associate researcher at France's National Institute for Agriculture, Nutrition, and the Environment and a member of Toulouse School of Economics at the Toulouse Capitole University.
In a 2021 report published by Springer Nature, he argues the negatives of conventional cattle farming, saying there are "important moral concerns due to the treatment of farm animals."

"It is estimated that more than 70 billion of terrestrial farm animals are raised and killed for food every year," Mr. Treich wrote, adding that animals raised for food are "usually slaughtered very young."

Pigs, he said, "are confined for weeks in small crates, prohibiting basic movements including walking and turning around."

Mr. Treich said animal sciences have increasingly acknowledged "the emotional and cognitive abilities of animals, including those of farm animals."

"Given that about 70 [percent to] 80 percent of antibiotics worldwide are used for farm animals, animal food production is also an incubator for antimicrobial resistance," he said.

While real animal meat contains "some important nutrients," he posits that consuming too much red or processed meat leads to health issues, "such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, calcium homeostasis, and numerous cancers."

According to Mr. Treich's conclusion, conventional meat production "contributes significantly to climate change," requires "a great deal of water and land," and is a major contributor to "deforestation, loss of biodiversity and epidemics."

"[Lab-grown meat] provides a serious, perhaps the most serious, alternative to be able to significantly reduce the deleterious impacts of meat production and consumption," he writes.

Lab Meat Critics

Critics of lab-grown meat say it's worse for the environment, will have a negative impact on the economy, and poses health risks to humans.
Despite being touted as more environmentally friendly than conventional beef farming, a study conducted by researchers from the University of California–Davis (UC–Davis), and the University of California–Holtville, released on April 21, suggests that it's just the opposite.

The production of animal cell-based meat "appears to be resource intensive when examined from the cradle to production gate perspective for the scenarios and assumptions utilized in our analyses," the study states. The study found that the production of lab-grown meat may emit significantly more carbon dioxide per kilogram.

"Our model generally contradicts these previous studies by suggesting that the environmental impact of cultured meat is likely to be higher than conventional beef systems, as opposed to more environmentally friendly," the authors wrote.

"This is an important conclusion given that investment dollars have specifically been allocated to this sector with the thesis that this product will be more environmentally friendly than beef."

The study also advises caution in pushing a new food source that will have repercussions on a global scale.

"Agricultural and food production systems are central to feeding a growing global population and the development of technology which enhances food production is important for societal progress," the report states.

"Evaluation of these potentially disruptive technologies from a systems-level perspective is essential for those seeking to transform our food system."

Data from the USDA as of December 2022 show that U.S. animal and animal product receipts—totaling $195.8 billion with $72.9 billion (37 percent) coming from cattle and calves—accounted for the largest portion of farm cash receipts in 2021. That's a decrease from $78.2 billion in cash receipts reported in 2015.
A major challenge for U.S. ranchers is "cheap imports of grass-fed beef," which accounted for an estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of total U.S. grass-fed beef sales, according to study released by Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in 2017.
The study also revealed that most U.S. consumers aren't aware that they're purchasing beef imported from other countries because "as long as the imported beef passes through a USDA-inspected plant"—which is required—"it can be labeled 'Product of the USA.'"

"My concern would just be scaling this up too quickly and doing something harmful for the environment," said Derrick Risner, lead author of the UC–Davis study.

Lab-grown meat is "a travesty waiting to happen," according to Dr. Paul Saladino.

"Lab-grown meat is not real meat," he said in a Sept. 14 video on X, formerly known as Twitter. "It's made in cell culture in a lab. It's almost certainly going to cause health issues for humans—autoimmune issues, damage to the gut, all sorts of problems can arise from meat grown in a petri dish."

Dr. Saladino said lab meat will have an "inferior nutrient profile compared to meat from a cow that has grown eating grass in nature."

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