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No-Kill Burgers?: U.S. firms eye green light to sell lab-grown meat

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President Joe Biden’s signed an executive order last month on biotechnology and biomanufacturing, which observers say could push federal agencies to allow commercial sales of meat grown from an animal’s cells.

MAEVE SHEEHEY: Companies creating lab-grown steak, chicken, and fish see a recent White House announcement as a signal that meat grown without animal slaughter is on the cusp of being legally sold and eaten in the US. “We are laser focused on commercial-scale production, and for us, that means moving into competing with conventional meat products in scale,” said Eric Schulze, vice president of product and regulation at Upside Foods, a cultivated meat company, as the industry calls itself. The goal is to be selling its meat on the US market within the year.

The traditional meat and poultry industry reacted strongly to President Joe Biden’s executive order last month on biotechnology and biomanufacturing, which observers say could push federal agencies to allow commercial sales of meat grown from an animal’s cells… The US doesn’t yet allow selling meat that isn’t cut from a once-living animal, but in 2018 the Food and Drug Administration and the Agriculture Department agreed to share regulation of the eventual market. What that looks like in reality is still unclear.

The Agriculture Department last year issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the labeling of cultivated meat and poultry products, and granted $10 million to create a center for excellence in cellular agriculture at Tufts University. An FDA spokesperson said the agency and USDA will “continue to work in collaboration to develop more detailed procedures to facilitate coordination of our shared regulatory oversight, including developing coordinated labeling principles for livestock/poultry and seafood products made from cultured animal cells. We cannot speculate about the timing of market entry.”

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, too, said the agency is working on developing a labeling rule, but can’t yet comment on a timeline. Once the food is legal for sale, the FDA will regulate the collection of animal cells, while the Agriculture Department will oversee packaging and processing of the final meat products. Lab-grown meat producers say their food can limit carbon emissions and agricultural runoff endemic to the livestock industry, virtually eliminate animal slaughter—and create meat that is genetically identical to food Americans are used to eating from cows, chickens, pigs, and fish.

But farmers and ranchers question whether the food should even be classified as meat… The lab-grown meat industry largely agrees their products should be labeled differently from traditional meat, contending that customers will want to choose their meat for the climate benefits and novelty. For many in the business, the preferred term is “cultivated” meat, which they see as as transparent but not unappetizing. “We need to build trust with consumers that way,” said Denneal Jamison-McClung, the director of the UC Davis Biotechnology Program, speaking at the school’s recent Cultivated Meat and Alternative Proteins Summit. SOURCE…

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