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FROM AG-GAG TO AD-GAG: Texas Lawmakers push unconstitutional ban on plant-based meat labeling

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Just like reasonable consumers understand that chickens don't have fingers, and you shouldn't wear cotton candy, a reasonable consumer understands these plant-based meat terms.

CHRISTIAN BRITSCHGI: A bill advancing through the Texas legislature would pile new regulations on how the makers of plant-based and lab-grown foods could label their products… The Texas House of Representatives passed H.B. 316. The bill amends the state’s food labeling laws to prevent newly defined “analogue” foods—a category that includes products from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat — from using terms like “beef,” “meat,” and “pork” on their packaging.

Plant-based food producers could still use terms like “burger,” according to The Dallas Morning News. But any such analogue burger or sausage would need to have “plant-based,” “meatless,” “made from plants,” or “a similar qualifying term or disclaimer” prominently displayed on the label. H.B. 316 would apply similar restrictions to lab-grown meat, which would have to come with a “lab-grown” or “cell-cultured” label.

The market for fake meat products has grown says Scott Weathers, senior policy specialist for the Good Food Institute (GFI). Research from GFI shows that the market for plant-based meats grew 27 percent in the past year. That growth, he says, has produced a backlash from the producers of conventional meats. “Legislators who’ve introduced these bills have said their intent is to protect the traditional agricultural industry.”

Indeed, H.B. 316 has the vocal support of ranchers and pork and poultry producer associations. “It’s simple: Soy is not meat. Beans are not meat. Cells grown in a petri dish on artificial nutrient solutions are not meat,” wrote Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance in a public comment in support of H.B. 316. “Labels that imply in any way that these products are equivalent to meat from livestock are false and misleading”…

Texas’s bill is part of a trend. State legislatures across the country have introduced or passed bills regulating how plant-based foods can be labeled. Most have been the subject of lawsuits from plant-based food producers who argue that labeling restrictions violate their First Amendment rights to free speech.

“The First amendment turns on what a reasonable consumer will understand. If a reasonable consumer understands what you’re saying, then the government isn’t allowed to make you change what you’re saying,” says Justin Pearson, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. “Just like reasonable consumers understand that chickens don’t have fingers, and you shouldn’t wear cotton candy, a reasonable consumer understands these plant-based meat terms”.  SOURCE…

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