A pair of proposed bills would ban the sale and manufacture of lab-grown meat products in Florida. Also known as cultivated or cell-based meat, lab-grown meat is developed from animal cells and grown in massive bioreactors with the help of nutrients like amino acids.
Filed into the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Danny Alvarez (R- Hillsborough County), HB 1071 would make it “unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, hold or offer for sale, or distribute cultivated meat in this state.”
Also, any food establishment that “manufactures, distributes, or sells cultivated meat in violation” of the measure section could be in violation of the ban, and the license of any restaurant, store, or other business that violates the ban could be suspended.
A twin bill, SB 1084, is pending in the State Senate.
Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed the proposed measure during a press conference at South Florida State College Hardee Campus in Bowling Green on Feb. 5. “They really want to go after agriculture because they blame agriculture for global warming, (but) I know the legislature is doing a bill trying to protect our meat,” DeSantis said. “You need meat and we’re going to have meat in Florida – we’re not going to where you have fake meat – that doesn’t work.”
The proposed ban is the State’s latest salvo against Environment Social Governance (ESG), under which some large banking institutions seek to establish a set of standards, including those pertaining to climate change, that evaluate how a company performs on a so-called “sustainability scale.” Scoring on that scale can affect the business’ ability to obtain credit or qualify for a commercial loan.
“They’re opposed to modern agriculture processes,” DeSantis said. “So we said in Florida ‘no’ if you want access to our market, do normal business, (and) we told banks you’re not allowed to do social credit scores.”
In a Feb. 2 posting on the X social media platform, Wilton Simpson, commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FACS), called ESG “an existential threat to American agriculture.” It is especially threatening to operators of small farms who make up 98 percent of the state’s agricultural community, he said.
“Using ESG to determine who you will give loans to is very important to farmers, especially small farmers who do not have the capital to plant their crops each year,” he said. “If ESG activists have their way, millions of these farmers will lose their livelihood, (and) in the state of Florida, we spend all our time considering the fact that agriculture is a national security issue.”
HB 1071 is currently before the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee of the Florida House.
If passed and signed into law, the measure would go into effect on July 1.
According to the bill summary on flsenate.gov, HB 1071 also includes language that would pre-empt the regulation of electric vehicle charging stations to the state; provides several changes on measures regulating the pest control industry, commercial landscaping and wildlife management; weapons and firearms; charitable organizations and professional solicitors; saw palmetto berries; motor vehicle repair shops; direct support organizations; Florida Agricultural Museum; trespass on and theft of property; weights and measures; household moving and shipping services; agricultural school activities; hunter ID program; and penalties for various violations.