Quantcast

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

Food
Memphis Meats

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.


Lab-grown meat is not yet for sale—one of the most important American companies in the space, Memphis Meats, doesn't expect to start selling its products until 2021—but it is coming. And that's why the FDA, smartly, called for a public meeting to try to figure out just what to do with this stuff.

Lab-grown meat is typically made by harvesting certain kinds of cells, like embryonic stem cells, from living animals such as chickens or cows. Those cells are then placed on a sort of scaffolding, surrounded by a protein-rich medium, and allowed to grow. The scaffolding itself is made to be edible.

It is possible to acquire the initial animal cells without harming the animal in question, and it's also theoretically possible to grow vast quantities of lab-grown meat from a single initial cell—it's sort of like harvesting seeds from the fruit of a plant you grew from a seed. The possible benefits of lab-grown meat are obvious and enormous: Some studies suggest that lab-grown meat would require half as much energy as regular meat, produce a quarter of the greenhouse gases, take up basically no arable land space and greatly reduce water needs as well.

The FDA recently announced a public meeting, to be held on July 12th, to discuss how to regulate lab-grown meat. The FDA plans to start with some basic questions: How should lab-grown meat be evaluated for safety? What sorts of medium should be allowed? What kinds of manufacturing methods should be permitted?

The FDA also noted that it expects labeling to be a major topic of conversation. Dan Murphy, writing for Drovers (a long-running meat and livestock industry publication), affirms that expectation. Murphy wrote: "The entrepreneurs branding and positioning their creations want to identify them as "beef" or "chicken," even though they're not derived from conventional animal agriculture. To avoid problems down the road, if and when such products become price-competitive and thus more widely available, unique names ought to be required so that there is a clear line between meat from livestock and alt-meat from a factory."

The meat industry is likely to take a great deal of interest in this FDA meeting, and the regulations to follow. Some are already hedging their bets; Tyson, for example, is already an investor in Memphis Meats. We, too, will be following this closely.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Doctors report that only 1 in 4 children are getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Ronnie Kaufman / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Dan Gray

Pediatricians are being urged to start writing "exercise prescriptions" for the children they see in their office.

Read More
A First Nations protester walks in front of a train blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ontario, Canada on Feb. 21, 2020. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

An indigenous rail blockade that snarled train travel in Canada for more than two weeks came to an end Monday when police moved in to clear protesters acting in solidarity with another indigenous community in British Columbia (B.C.), which is fighting to keep a natural gas pipeline off its land.

Read More
Sponsored
A rainbow snake, a rare reptile spotted in a Florida county for the first time in more than 50 years, seen here on July 5, 2013. Kevin Enge / FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute / Flickr

A Florida hiker recently stumbled across a slithering surprise — a rare snake that hadn't been spotted in the area for more than 50 years.

Read More
We need our government to do everything it can to stop PFAS contamination and exposure from wreaking havoc in communities across the country. LuAnn Hun / Unsplash

By Genna Reed

The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS.

This decision is based on three criteria:

  1. PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health
  2. PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern;
  3. regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.
Read More
Charging EVs in Stockholm: But where does a dead battery go? Ranjithsiji / Wikimedia Commons

By Kieran Cooke

Driving an electric-powered vehicle (EV) rather than one reliant on fossil fuels is a key way to tackle climate change and improve air quality — but it does leave the old batteries behind as a nasty residue.

Read More