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Alabama bans lab-grown meat, joining Florida among US states outlawing alternative proteins

Alabama became the second U.S. state to ban lab-grown meat, joining Florida which earlier this month outlawed the alternative protein.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Bill, which the prohibits “the manufacture, sale, or distribution of food products made from cultured animal cells,” into law on May 7. The legislation was sponsored by Republicans Sen. Jack Williams and Rep. Danny Crawford.

Supporters for the bill argue that it protects cattle ranchers and farmers from lab-grown meat competitors and the measures also address the notion that a cabal of global “elites” are promoting unnatural food.

“Cattlemen work hard every day to raise cattle and produce high-quality beef. The tireless efforts of Sen. Williams and Rep. Crawford this session will ensure Alabamians continue to purchase safe, wholesome, real beef.,” Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Vice President Erin Beasley wrote on Facebook.

Lab-grown meat utilizes an emerging technology that uses animal cells to produce make in a laboratory that is meant for consumption.

Beef production a major climate change contributor

Critics call the move misguided for several reasons such as the fact that first cultivated meat regulatory approvals passed in the U.S. less than a year ago. Others also note that cell-based protein is an innovative alternative for advancing climate change as the meat doesn’t require land, crops and water needed to care for livestock.

Beef production is also a major contributor to global methane emissions, with a single cow producing between 154 to 264 pounds of methane gas yearly, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. With 1.5 billion beef cattle raised globally, at least 231 billion pounds of methane are expelled into the atmosphere are per year.

“Legislation that bans cultivated meat is a reckless move that ignores food safety experts and science, stifles consumer choice, and hinders American innovation. It makes politicians the food police, and it ignores the food safety experts at USDA and FDA who have deemed it safe,” Sean Edgett, Chief Legal Officer for food technology company Upside Foods, said in a statement to USA TODAY.

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Florida ban meant to protect ‘integrity of American agriculture’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 1 signed the into law a bill outlawing the manufacture, sale and distribution of lab-grown meat. The former presidential candidate said the law is meant to protect cattle ranchers and the “integrity of American agriculture.”

“Take your fake lab-grown meat elsewhere,” DeSantis said. “Florida is fighting back against the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals.”

DeSantis made fun of liberals advocating for “fake meat” as a way to combat climate change – and chided global leaders such as those at The World Economic Forum, which has advocated for insects as an alternative edible protein source (they are considered delicacies in certain cultures).

The ban does not apply to Impossible meat, which is made from plant-based ingredients.

Officials in other states including Kentucky, Arizona, West Virginia and Tennessee have similar measures cooking.

Contributing: Ana Goñi-Lessan, Dan Rorabaugh and Mike Snider

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