Will Texas Ban Lab-Grown Meat Like Florida?

Burger made with lab-grown meat | Image by UPSIDE Foods/Facebook
Burger made with lab-grown meat | Image by UPSIDE Foods/Facebook

Following Florida’s recent ban on the sale of lab-grown meat, Texas finds itself at a crossroads and is considering whether to follow suit.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, two food production companies, UPSIDE Foods and Good Meats, were granted federal approval to produce and sell lab-grown chicken products in California last year. They were two of more than 150 companies globally that have been developing cultured versions of various types of meat, such as chicken, pork, lamb, and beef.

Despite some scalability issues, the companies behind such products have touted them as more ethical, ecological, and nutritious.

“[Cultivated chicken meat] has fewer calories and lower fat than an average piece of conventionally-produced chicken,” said UPSIDE Foods’ senior communications associate Brooke Whitney, per Very Well Health.

In response to the growth of the lab-grown meat movement, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law SB 1084 on May 1, effectively outlawing the sale of “cultivated meat,” which was defined “as any meat or food product produced from cultured animal cells.” The bill imposes penalties for violating the ban and restricts activities related to the manufacturing, distribution, and storage of lab-grown meat, with exceptions for research purposes.

DeSantis emphasized the importance of prioritizing traditional farming and ranching practices over what he referred to as “petri dish meat.”

“Global elites want to control our behavior and push a diet of petri dish meat and bugs on Americans. Florida is saying no. I was proud to sign SB 1084 to keep lab-grown meat out of Florida and prioritize our farmers and ranchers over the agenda of elites and the World Economic Forum,” DeSantis said via X.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller echoed the sentiment, expressing his support for Florida’s move and advocating for a similar ban in the Lone Star State.

“I commend Governor DeSantis for signing that bill. It’s something that hopefully will start a trend. Maybe we can possibly get that through the Texas Legislature, I’d certainly be in favor of that,” Miller told the Texas Scorecard.

Miller, a staunch advocate for traditionally raised beef and chicken, questioned the appeal of lab-grown substitutes, further highlighting Texas’ abundant cattle supply. He emphasized that lab-grown meat does not align with what he termed “cowboy logic,” suggesting that the public’s interest in such products is minimal.

Sen. Charles Perry (R-San Angelo) authored a law requiring clear labeling of cell-cultured products in Texas that was enacted last year. SB 664 ensures that consumers are aware when products are lab-grown yet does not prohibit the availability of lab-grown meat products to the public.

A statewide survey conducted in 2020 by TFB and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association revealed that 1 in 5 Texans were confused by the packaging of meat substitute food products, finding them often indistinguishable from traditional ones.

“Texas Farm Bureau is grateful for the Texas Legislature and its work this session on the issue of deceptive labeling of food products. Our organization appreciates the leadership of Sen. Perry and State Rep. Brad Buckley in addressing this important topic,” said Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening.

However, cultivated meat products may also alleviate the global food shortage and the negative impacts associated with industrial farming practices throughout the country. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, EPIC/UPSIDE Foods generated 50,000 pounds of cultivated meat annually as of 2022, with the potential to scale up to 400,000 pounds.

Comparatively, a typical chicken slaughterhouse produces over 37 million pounds of chicken annually. Considering that the average American consumes more than 80 pounds of chicken each year, the UPSIDE Foods facility could potentially provide sustenance for 5,000 individuals annually in the United States.

Alan Engel, a former barbecue champion, previously told The Dallas Express, “I don’t see [cultivated meat] being a threat to the industry yet, but as time goes on, a lot of the traditional ranchers are going by the wayside, and newer generations won’t be [raising cattle], which may make way in the industry,”

According to the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB), U.S. and Texas cattle herds have hit record lows recently. Nationwide, there were 87.2 million heads of cattle, down 2% from last year. Among 34 states with declining numbers, Texas saw its count drop to 12 million from 12.5 million, exhibiting another year-over-year loss seen in recent trends.

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