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DeSantis signs ban on lab-grown meat in Florida, says ‘elites’ are pushing it

‘Take your fake, lab-grown meat elsewhere, governor says


Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Wednesday banning cultivated or lab-grown meat in Florida, placing it within a conspiracy by global “elites” to destroy agriculture in the interests of fighting climate change.

During a ceremony in the Hardee County Cattleman’s Arena in Wauchula the governor compared the threat of lab-grown meat to citrus greening and hurricanes.

“Those are, though, natural disasters — those are acts of God,” he said.

“What we’re protecting here is the industry against acts of man, against an ideological agenda that wants to finger agriculture as the problem, that views things like raising cattle as destroying our climate,” DeSantis continued.

“These will be people who will lecture the rest of us about things like global warming — they will say that, you know, you can’t drive an internal combustion engine vehicle, they’ll say that agriculture is bad. Meanwhile, they’re flying to Davos in their private jets and they’re living like they would ever want to live,” the governor added.

“So, this is really a vision of imposing restrictions on freedoms for everyday people while these elites are effectively pulling the strings, calling the shots, and doing whatever the hell they want to do in their own lives. And we’ve said in Florida, these folks like the World Economic Forum in Davos that they meet and they scheme, those policies are dead on arrival in the state of Florida,” he added.

DeSantis might easily be considered part of the elite himself, as a Yale- and Harvard Law School-educated governor of the third-largest state who frequently travels by a state-own executive jet and was criticized during his presidential campaign for relying on private rather than commercial jets.

Dept. of Ag legislation

The bill (SB 1084) contains a number of programs for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, including provisions allowing members of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) to get excused absences from schools to attend events.

It also makes it “unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, sell, hold or offer for sale, or distribute cultivated meat in this state,” punishable by up to 60 days in jail. Food establishments that sell or serve the stuff are also subject to penalties including loss of commercial licenses.

The law defines “cultured meat” as “any meat or food product produced from cultured animal cells.” The USDA began authorizing its sale in the United States last June.

DeSantis waxed indignant about the prospect.

“They want to basically eliminate meat, they want to eliminate cattle, they want to eliminate chickens, all this stuff, and they want to create protein in laboratories. So, it’s essentially lab-created meat. And their goal is to get to a point where you will not be raising cattle, you will not be developing meat like we’ve being doing for hundreds and hundreds of years in the state of Florida,” he said.

It’s not a matter of introducing a product to compete in the marketplace “because they (meaning the elites) know that if that was put out there to compete with normal beef they would lose,” DeSantis said. Instead, he continued, they want to phase out meat production.

“Now, they’re not at the point where they’re going to be able to execute that today, but I think part of being good stewards of these industries, of the state, of the public wellbeing, is to think forward and head off threats before they even come,” DeSantis said.

“The bill that I’m going to sign today is going to say, basically, take your fake, lab-grown meat elsewhere. We’re not doing that in the state of Florida,” he said.

Not ‘willy-nilly’

DeSantis turned his nose up at one suggested solution.

“They also want you to believe that consuming insects is a, quote, overlooked source of protein and a way to battle climate change. Now, I’m sure they’ll say, hey wait a minute, just hear us out before you say yuck. And to that I say, Florida has heard enough on that.”

“This is not just being done willy-nilly. They want to do this stuff in a lab to be able to wipe the people sitting here out of business. We will not let that happen in the great state of Florida.”

Commissioner of Agriculture Wilson Simpson, himself a farmer and developer, noted that Italy has also banned lab-grown meat.

He praised the bill’s support for youth-agriculture groups, saying, “We need that next generation” in the industry.

Dale Carlton, president-elect of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, observed that the cattle industry in Florida dates to the 1500s, when the Spanish introduced the animals to Florida. These developed into the “cracker cow,” a hardy breed that served as one of Florida’s chief contributions to the Confederacy during the civil war. Floridians have long held the nickname “crackers” in homage to the sound cattlemen’s whips made.

As of 2021, agriculture contributed more than $7.7 billion to Florida’s economy, and cattle-raising more than $546 million.

“Some people think Florida is theme parks, South Beach, and maybe some oranges, but they don’t really understand that, you know, we have one of the top cattle industries in the country,” DeSantis said.

Sen. Jay Collins of the Tampa Bay region, one of the bill’s sponsors, said his family lost its 3,000-acre farm during the 1980s. “I can’t stand idly by and watch that happen to other people in our great state of Florida,” he said.

Plant burgers

DeSantis also took a swipe at plant-based burgers as “less healthy than the actual beef itself … and it doesn’t taste as good.” (That first opinion is supported by an M.D. Anderson Cancer Center report claiming that plant burgers are highly processed and can contain genetically modified foods, while beef is less processed and can be healthy if eaten in moderation.)

“Whatever floats your boat,” the governor allowed.

“But what they’re doing with the lab-grown, is what they want to say is this the same as raising cattle and doing it naturally, then there’s no reason that you have this industry. So, it is designed to represent a threat to agriculture as we know it. It is not just about having a product on the market. That’s the first step but they want much more than that. And I think we’re snuffing this out at the beginning,” DeSantis said.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.


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  • David Daniels

    If people were shown the cruelty of the killing, the pain of the slaughtering - more would want an alternative. What happened to the free market of ideas and fair competition? Consumers should have a choice. This is protectionism for cruelty and environmental harm.

    Friday, May 3 Report this

  • Cat L

    Guess the lab grown meat people forgot to give DeSantis a donation...

    Is he just not able to make public statements without making up an enemy to hate on? Who are the "They" he's saying are on private jets eating veggie burgers?

    Friday, May 3 Report this

  • kmskepton

    The next installment in "I Love Capitalism - as long as it's MY way."

    Friday, May 3 Report this

  • Smartins

    For an educated man, DeSantis sure is a dope. He's trying to appeal to the right-wing fringe element.

    Friday, May 3 Report this

  • jimandlope

    Once again, “the great state of Florida,” enacts legislation that benefits no one except our Governors ego and tough guy image. I sincerely doubt that the, “ fake meat,” industry would harm Florida’s cattle industry. Every Floridian homeowner needs relief from homeowner, auto and flood insurance rates. But Tough guy Ron attacks lab grown meats? WTF? Jim Tierney

    Friday, May 3 Report this

  • san.gander

    Obviously, DeSantis is lying... he is protecting the private meat industry in Florida. Growing cultured protein in labratory's isn't a proven technogy yet... but this is them, private industry using government to protect their profits. Noit isn't mysterious "elites". Just companies trying to make a product that will sell. A cheap, safe, protein, is needed in a hungrey world. I remember well, back in the day, when the dairy industry used the government to forced manufacturers of the substitute "margerine" to stop using yellow dye in their product so it didn't look like butter. The maker's of margerine got around this by adding a small packet of yellow dye, which could be massaged into the product at home, so it ressembled butter. How much money for DeSantis political campaign comes from Florida's meat industries combined, ranch to packing house?

    Friday, May 3 Report this

  • rayfusco68

    Did he mean elite like jetting migrants from Texas and then jetting them to Martha's Vineyard? What a numbskull, lets kill free enterprise and competition to pander to a group that really isn't threatened,

    Friday, May 3 Report this