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Florida lawmakers look to ban lab-grown ‘cultivated’ meat products

The bill’s sponsor, Hillsborough Republican Rep. Danny Alvarez, pointed to concerns about food safety.
 
In this Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 photo, chef Amir Ilan prepares a lab-grown steak during a presentation by the company Aleph Farms, in Jaffa, Israel.
In this Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 photo, chef Amir Ilan prepares a lab-grown steak during a presentation by the company Aleph Farms, in Jaffa, Israel. [ TSAFRIR ABAYOV | AP ]
Published Jan. 24

The Florida House on Wednesday began moving forward with a wide-ranging Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services bill that would ban making or selling “cultivated” meat in the state.

The House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee voted 9-5 to approve the bill (HB 1071), sponsored by Rep. Danny Alvarez, R-Hillsborough County. The Senate Agriculture Committee last week approved the Senate version (SB 1084).

Cultivated meat, sometimes known as lab-grown meat, involves a process of taking a small number of cultured cells from animals and growing them in controlled settings to make food.

The proposed ban is backed by Florida agriculture groups. Alvarez pointed to concerns about food safety.

“As of today, the unknowns are so great,” he told the House panel. “There are no long-term studies.”

But industry officials said the cultivated meat process has been closely scrutinized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure safety.

Rep. Joe Casello, D-Boynton Beach, said he probably wouldn’t buy cultivated meat but that it could be an “economic engine” for Florida.

“I think this is the wave of the future that’s going to come whether we ban this on this bill today or not,” Casello said. “It’s going to come.”