DeSantis’ lab-grown meat ban not just populist politics

US Governor Ron DeSantis has banned the sale of lab-grown meat in the state of Florida.

He said, “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,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef.”

While many will see the DeSantis ban as populist posturing there is a serious point behind the electioneering.

Lab-grown meat is super expensive, energy inefficient, does nothing to restore natural systems – and despite the billions invested, it’s completely failing to scale.

While there’s no doubt that many livestock systems are extractive, with a heavy reliance on fossil fuels, imported feed and water, and medicines such as antibiotics, lab meat is not the answer.

Instead we need more meat from livestock produced in regenerative farm systems that support the restoration of Earth’s natural systems. Regen farming cycles nutrients and water efficiently and effectively, while potentially delivering carbon drawdown at levels significantly beyond the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the livestock.

These farm systems also support jobs, communities and local economies and produce food with high levels of bio-available nutrition – by contrast, lab-grown meat, backed by corporate investors such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, is nutritionally deficient and employs just a few scientists in white coats.

Christopher Ramsay, Founding Partner of Pelican Ag said, “The issue is that clean meat has garnered a disproportionate slice of the venture dollar, yet won’t feed our children the full spectrum of nutrients their bodily processes evolved to need, or build soil or restore ecosystems. In our view, we need to bang the drum for the wealth of VC-backable founders working to transition our food systems by working with nature.”

Global conspiracy
DeSantis’ claimed that lab-grown meat is being foisted on unsuspecting people by a nebulous global elite, and targeted his ire specifically at the World Economic Forum.

Supporting the DeSantis legislation, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson, said, “Florida is taking a tremendous step in the right direction by signing first-in-the-nation legislation banning lab-grown meat. We must protect our incredible farmers and the integrity of American agriculture. Lab-grown meat is a disgraceful attempt to undermine our proud traditions and prosperity, and is in direct opposition to authentic agriculture.”

While there is little evidence of a global conspiracy, there are certainly a large number of global organisations and NGOs urging people to forgo meat consumption – primarily because they are viewing food systems through a carbon-only lens.

Fossil fuels not emissions
One notable exception, bravely extending its head above the parapet, is the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

In a landmark report, authored by its former Programme Director, Patty Fong, the Global Alliance called for the focus on food systems to shift away from greenhouse gas emissions towards fossil fuel reduction.

The truth is that all global commodity agriculture is dependent on fossil fuels – whether for the production of meat, dairy, cereals, vegetables or fruit – and that a shift away from those fossil fuels would require a mass pivot towards regenerative and agroecological farming principles.

Fong said, “Industrial food systems have a fossil fuel problem. To prevent catastrophic climate breakdown, we need to urgently wean our food systems – alongside other economic sectors – off fossil fuels. Shifting away from fossil fuel dependency towards renewable energy and regenerative and agroecological farming would not only protect our planet, but make food more affordable, enhance food security, create jobs, improve health, and help tackle hunger.”


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