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Legislature passes bill to ban laboratory grown meat substitutes from being labeled as meat

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, the Alabama Senate passed a bill to ensure that laboratory-grown meat substitutes are not sold to Alabama consumers labeled as “meat.”

House Bill 518 was sponsored by State Representative Danny Crawford, R-Athens, and carried in the Alabama Senate by State Senator David Sessions, R-Grand Bay.

The legislation ensures that the definition of “meat” only applies to products sourced from livestock on farms and ranches and harvested through processing; the bill clarifies that laboratory-grown products may not be labeled as meat.

“This is proactive legislation to ensure clarity in food labeling,” Sessions said. “Around the country, there are more and more companies trying to market lab-grown products as meat, which is misleading since they aren’t derived from actual livestock production.”

Senator Sessions pointed out that the nutritional and safety risks of foods developed in labs from animal cell cultures are still unknown.

“These new lab-produced foods are, at best, synthetic meats, and their nutritional effects are unknown right now,” Sessions said. “Let’s see how the science develops through further research, and make a clear distinction between meat that is farm-raised on the one hand, and lab-based products on the other.”

The beef cattle industry represents a $2.5 billion industry in Alabama and is the number two agricultural commodity in the state. There are over 20,000 cattle farms in the state of Alabama. Beef continues to be a favorite protein among consumers across the world, with exports of American beef representing an $8 billion industry alone.

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“The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association represents over 10,000 members across the state. As alternative proteins enter the marketplace in coming years, we think it is imperative that the integrity of all meat labels are protected and clear for consumers when they go to the meat case,” said Erin Beasley, Executive Vice President of the Alabama Cattleman’s Association.

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“The passage of this bill is a win-win for the consumers who love to buy beef, and the cattlemen who work hard to produce a high-quality product,” Beasley added. “We would like to thank the Alabama Legislature for the support of this bill, and especially Senator David Sessions and Representative Danny Crawford for carrying the bill.”

HB518 now goes to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) for her consideration.

Tuesday will be the 25th legislative day of the 2019 regular session. Under the 1901 Constitution of Alabama the legislature is limited to a maximum of 30 possible legislative days in a regular session.

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