Ron DeSantis

DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Lab-Grown Meat in Florida

While the governor framed the legislation as necessary to protect Floridians from "the global elite," he's the real authoritarian. 


On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill banning the sale or production of lab-grown meat in the state. While a press release framed the bill as an attempt to advance Floridans' freedom by protecting them from the "World Economic Forum's goal of forcing the world to eat lab-grown meat and insects," all the legislation really does is stile competition for the state's meat producers. 

"Today, 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 said in a Wednesday press release. "Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef."

Cultivated, or "lab-grown," meat has been available in the United States on an extremely limited basis, generally limited to individual restaurants, since last year, after the Food and Drug Administration approved two different kinds of cultivated chicken for sale.

However, despite DeSantis' supposed fears about a lab-grown meat takeover, the small cultivated meat industry is struggling. The product isn't currently available anywhere in the United States, let alone in Florida.

Nonetheless, the governor signed Senate Bill 1084, which enacts a wide-ranging ban on cultivated meat, making it illegal "for any person to manufacture for sale, sell, hold or offer for sale, or distribute cultivated meat in" Florida. Violators of the law face misdemeanor penalties, and businesses caught selling the product could have their licenses suspended.

"We must protect our incredible farmers and the integrity of American agriculture," Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson said in the press release. "Lab-grown meat is a disgraceful attempt to undermine our proud traditions and prosperity, and is in direct opposition to authentic agriculture."

However, it seems DeSantis is the real authoritarian in this situation. Instead of letting Floridians decide for themselves whether they want to try lab-grown meat, DeSantis is having the state step in, all in the name of protecting Floridians from an imaginary threat to their freedom.

Florida's lab-grown meat ban is a perfect marriage of protectionism and the culture war. By framing the tiny lab-grown meat industry as a left-wing threat, DeSantis can justify giving government kickbacks to the meat industry, all while protecting meat producers from a source of future competition. Wednesday's press release goes so far as to brag about a litany of recently passed legislation that "support[s] the state's agriculture and meat industry."

Unfortunately, Florida isn't the first state to ban cultivated meat. Alabama passed a ban on lab-grown meat last month, and legislation to ban the product is pending in Arizona and Tennessee. Italy banned it last year.