Alabama Emulates DeSantis’ Directive, Prohibits Lab-Grown Meat

Alabama has joined Florida in taking a stand against cultivated meat, an emerging alternative protein derived from animal cells.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Jack Williams, vice chair of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee, was signed into law on May 7 by Gov. Kay Ivy. This law prohibits the “manufacture, sale, or distribution of food products made from cultured animal cells.”

This move follows Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s recent decision to make Florida the pioneer state in banning the sale of lab-grown meat. DeSantis emphasized his support for agriculture, cattle ranchers, and farmers, highlighting the importance of these industries to the state’s economy during a press conference on May 1, which marked the beginning of National Beef Month.

Florida’s beef production generates over $900 million annually, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The focus on beef production is also a part of broader discussions on climate change due to its significant contribution to global methane emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a single cow emits between 154 to 264 pounds of methane gas annually. Considering the 1.5 billion beef cattle raised worldwide, this results in at least 231 billion pounds of methane released into the atmosphere each year.

In contrast, cell-based protein production requires fewer resources such as land, water, and crops, making it more environmentally friendly as global meat demand continues to rise.

However, the recent bans on cultivated meat have faced criticism from industry experts. Sean Edgett, chief legal officer of Upside Foods, a cultivated meat company, criticized the legislation as disregarding food safety and scientific expertise, limiting consumer choice, and hindering innovation.

Upside Foods, which has received USDA clearance to sell its chicken products in the U.S., has garnered investments from major food companies like Cargill and Tyson Foods, as well as notable figures like Richard Branson and Bill Gates.

In response to the bans in Alabama and Florida, Upside Foods initiated a change.org petition urging consumers to advocate against political interference in their food choices.

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