DeSantis Enacts Ban on Lab-Grown Meat in Florida, Citing Influence from ‘Elites’

Governor Ron DeSantis enacted a law on Wednesday prohibiting the production of cultivated or lab-grown meat in Florida, aligning it with a narrative that accuses global “elites” of orchestrating measures to undermine agriculture in the name of combating climate change.

Speaking at a ceremony held in the Hardee County Cattleman’s Arena in Wauchula, Governor DeSantis likened the perceived threat of lab-grown meat to natural disasters like citrus greening and hurricanes, categorizing them as acts of God.

He emphasized the need to shield the agricultural sector from what he portrayed as an ideological agenda that scapegoats farming practices, particularly cattle-raising, for environmental degradation. DeSantis criticized those who advocate for environmental causes while leading luxurious lifestyles, highlighting discrepancies in their actions versus their rhetoric.

The governor portrayed the legislation as a defense of everyday freedoms against the influence of elite figures who, he claimed, impose restrictive policies while enjoying personal liberties. He emphasized Florida’s stance against policies advocated by groups such as the World Economic Forum, characterizing them as incompatible with the state’s values.

Notably, DeSantis himself, with his Ivy League education and privileged lifestyle, could be considered part of the elite class, a fact critics have previously pointed out during his political career.

Dept. of Ag legislation

The legislation (SB 1084) encompasses various initiatives for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, notably permitting members of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) to receive excused absences from schools for event attendance.

Furthermore, the law prohibits the manufacturing, sale, possession, or distribution of cultivated meat within the state, with violations carrying penalties of up to 60 days in jail. Additionally, food establishments that offer or serve such products face penalties, including the potential loss of commercial licenses.

Under the statute, “cultured meat” is defined as any meat or food product derived from cultured animal cells, a practice authorized by the USDA since June of the previous year.

Governor DeSantis expressed strong opposition to the concept, suggesting it as a step towards eliminating traditional meat production methods in favor of lab-created alternatives. He criticized the motivations behind introducing lab-grown meat, alleging it to be a strategic move aimed at phasing out conventional meat production rather than a genuine attempt to compete in the market.

While acknowledging that the immediate implementation of such plans may not be feasible, DeSantis emphasized the importance of preemptively addressing potential threats to traditional industries and public welfare. He asserted that the legislation he was signing signaled Florida’s refusal to accommodate lab-grown meat within its borders.

Not ‘willy-nilly’

DeSantis dismissed an unconventional suggestion, expressing disdain for the idea of promoting insect consumption as an alternative protein source to combat climate change. Emphasizing the economic threat posed by lab-grown meat, he pledged to protect traditional industries in Florida from being overshadowed by such innovations.

Commissioner of Agriculture Wilson Simpson highlighted Italy’s similar ban on lab-grown meat and praised the bill for supporting youth-agriculture groups, stressing the importance of cultivating the next generation of farmers.

Dale Carlton, president-elect of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, underscored the historical significance of cattle-raising in Florida, tracing its roots back to the 1500s and its vital role in the state’s economy.

Reflecting on Florida’s agricultural legacy, DeSantis highlighted the significant contribution of the cattle industry to the state’s economy, emphasizing the need to safeguard traditional agricultural practices.

Senator Jay Collins, a sponsor of the bill, shared a personal connection to the agricultural sector, expressing determination to prevent others from experiencing the hardships his family endured during the 1980s agricultural crisis.

Plant burgers

DeSantis criticized plant-based burgers, arguing they are less nutritious and flavorful compared to beef. He referenced a report from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which suggests that plant burgers are highly processed and may contain genetically modified ingredients, while emphasizing the potential health benefits of moderate beef consumption.

Acknowledging individual preferences, the governor expressed concern about the implications of lab-grown meat. He argued that such alternatives pose a fundamental threat to traditional agriculture, aiming not only to introduce a new product but also to fundamentally alter the agricultural industry. By signing the legislation, DeSantis asserted his commitment to safeguarding traditional farming practices and preventing the disruption of Florida’s agricultural landscape.

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