Lab-grown meat is on its way, and the government is trying to figure out how to regulate it. This week, the US House of Representatives released a draft spending bill [house.gov] that proposes that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulate lab-grown meat and figure out how it should be labeled — which is a contentious topic since Big Cattle doesn't want it to be called "meat." Regulation is important, and there's plenty more to learn, but the USDA shouldn't be the only one regulating. And when the product comes to market, yes, it should be called "meat."
Traditional meat, of course, comes from animals that are raised and slaughtered. Lab-grown meat (also called "in-vitro meat," "cultured meat," or "clean meat") is made from animal stem cells grown in a lab. But because the stem cells are typically fed with a serum derived from the blood of calf fetuses, the product uses animal products and isn't vegan. Still, the pitch for lab-grown meat is that it saves animals and also helps the environment because lab-grown meat doesn't take much land or energy to grow. Plus, lab-grown meat doesn't directly create methane emissions, while methane emissions from cows accounted for 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions [theguardian.com] in 2015.
Because of the way that government agencies work, it hasn't even been clear who should regulate lab meat. The USDA traditionally regulates meat, while the US Food and Drug Administration regulates food safety and additives. The proposal that the USDA be in charge of regulation is in line with what the National Cattlemen's Beef Association wanted [usda.gov], but some lab-meat advocates fear that USDA will be biased against them in favor of traditional meat [qz.com]. If the USDA will be regulating lab meat, it should at least collaborate with the FDA. There are no slaughterhouses for the USDA to inspect anyway, and the FDA has already been regulating food technology, like the genetically engineered salmon it approved [fda.gov]. It makes the most sense for the two to work together.
Previously: U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat" [soylentnews.org]
Related: Lab-Grown Chicken (and Duck) Could be on the Menu in 4 Years [soylentnews.org]
Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021 [soylentnews.org]
'Soylent' Dawkins? Atheist Mulls 'Taboo Against Cannibalism' Ending as Lab-Grown Meat Improves [soylentnews.org]