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Keep Meat-Packing Plants Closed. Get Cultured Meat Factories Open.


The reason cultured meats aren’t already on the US market has little to do with science and technology and everything to do with the USDA and FDA government regulators.

CHASE PURDY: COVID-19 is the latest reminder that the U.S. meat supply chain needs to change. It isn’t transparent, it isn’t safe for workers, and its biggest weakness, revealed during the pandemic, is the way a handful of companies have structured the now highly consolidated industry. Cell-cultured meat could answer all these of problems.

Produced in a sterile environment, cultured meat is real meat that’s made by growing cells from cows, pigs, and chickens into fat and muscle tissue. It offers the promise of real meat with none of the drawbacks: No animals are slaughtered, the process causes a small fraction of the environmental degradation inflicted by the current system…

There’s just one problem: red tape. The reason simple cell-cultured meats aren’t already on the market has little to do with science and technology and everything to do with government regulators. Even as cell-cultured meat companies—many of them American—break ground on their pilot production facilities, the U.S. government response lags far behind the technical innovation…

“It’s really an important development in the production of food,” said Steve Morris, a natural resources and environment director with the Government Accountability Office, in an April 2020 report. “We think FDA and USDA could benefit from greater collaboration on things like clarifying specific roles and responsibilities.”

That both agencies are moving slowly to establish a regulatory pathway is bad for leading homegrown startups such as Finless Foods, Memphis Meats, Just, and Mission Barns. It also raises the question: Wouldn’t it be advantageous for the U.S. government to shift some of its focus from reopening meatpacking plants to finishing laying out the regulatory framework for cultured meat?

The world is edging ever closer to the moment when basic cultured meat products will become available commercially, and it’s increasingly obvious that it will likely happen in Singapore, China, or Israel, all countries with growing tech industries and recent memories of food security issues, before it happens in the U.S. That’s bad news for anyone hoping the U.S. will take a leading role in stymying the negative impacts of animal agriculture on the changing climate. The sector accounts for about 14 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions…

Now is the time for the USDA and FDA to come together in an act of global leadership to bring cultured meat and all its benefits to consumers and the country. But in order to truly move the needle on the agricultural industry’s environmental—and moral—impact, we need to act decisively. It’s definitely not too late. . The United States can still win the edible space race to bring cell-cultured meat to market.  SOURCE…


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