TAMPA, Fla. - The fight to keep lab-grown meat out of Florida restaurants continues in Tallahassee.
On Monday, the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will take up House Bill 1071, filed by Rep. Danny Alvarez, R-Hillsborough County, that would address a series of Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issues, including imposing a ban on making or selling "cultivated" meat in the state.
"We don't even know how it will affect our DNA or our biome," said Bill Sponsor Rep. Danny Alvarez, "So, we just want to take a very soft and slow, methodical approach to make sure we're doing the right thing for the citizens of Florida."
Lab-grown meat is created by using just a few cells from an animal, which can grow into a sizable portion after several weeks. Federal regulators said some of it is safe and ready to eat after the FDA approved it last year.
Rep. Alvarez and other legislators disagree about whether his bill threatens the free market.
"In Florida, we have over 15,000 producers of homegrown cattle and beef that provide plenty for the state of Florida," Rep. Alvarez said last week.
Opponents of the ban argue that Florida's growing population is outpacing livestock production.
"The reality is not only should we be embracing new technologies and allowing this sector to have a footprint in Florida," said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orange County. "But we also need to be proactive in addressing population growth and the fact that we don't have enough meat to sustain the population in this state and in this country for decades to come. And allowing there to be the production of alternative proteins is a good thing."
In the end, experts said the public will eventually decide whether cultivated meat will find its way onto dinner tables in Florida.