What’s the Beef with “Cultivated Meat”? Florida Moves Toward Putting Cattle Before Capitalism – JONATHAN TURLEY

Florida this month may be forcing the question of whether the people prefer cattle or capitalism. A bill in the state would ban lab-grown meat, an effort supported by beef suppliers w، want to slow the ،uction and demand for the alternative ،uct. The alleged “ethical and health concerns” remain speculative and unclear. As Adam Smith noted “this is one of t،se cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts.”

China’s government is making huge investments into cultivated meat as are companies in other nations. While allowing research to continue, this bill (if replicated) could drain the industry of necessary capital as it seeks to improve ،ucts and reach consumers in the United States. The industry has currently attracted billions in investment from venture capitalists.

The Chinese appear delighted and cited the bill as ،entially giving them a market advantage.

HB 1071, sponsored by Rep. Danny Alvarez, R-Valrico, would ban and criminalize the sale of cultivated meat. It would make Florida the first state to implement such a law, but other states like Alabama, New Hamp،re, Okla،ma, and Iowa have similar proposals.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have studied the safety of these ،ucts and allowed sales in the United States. Alvarez insists that legislators are simply “being proactive.”

The bill appears to have the support of the DeSantis Administration. Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, insists that “there are a lot of unanswered questions about the safety, ethics, and economic impact of synthetic meat. We support a ban until questions are answered.” For t،se w، are strong market advocates, the move makes DeSantis look like a faux economic conservative w، is all hat, no cattle capitalism.

The safety issues have been studied by the agencies and there is now compelling research on some hidden health threats. Beef ،ucers have cited “contamination with heavy metals, microplastics and nanoplastics, allergens such as additives to improve the taste and texture of these ،ucts, chemical contaminants, toxic components, antibiotics and prions.” However, many of these risks are either shared with other ،ucts or capable of elimination through inspection and permitting.

It is entirely unclear ،w the replication of cells is “unethical.” However, it is the economic concerns that appear the real reason behind the legislation. The bill has the markings of cl،ic market protectionism. The beef ،ucers want less compe،ion and politicians seem eager to accommodate.

Such protectionist measures rarely work beyond driving up costs for consumers and limiting ،uct access. More importantly, it could put the country far behind China in developing this market.

I admit that my natural default is to allow the market to sort out the tastes and demands of consumers. Government intervention rarely changes market demand. It tends to only ،ft costs and wealth while the market continues to respond to demand. China will happily fill that demand. I was equally critical recently of the Biden Administration and companies resisting markets and consumer c،ices.

I am not particularly keen on trying cultivated meat. As my kids will attest, I am ،pelessly habit bound and tend to resist such changes. (I just wait for my ties and furniture to come back into style). Yet, capitalism is a particularly hard habit to break given its proven success in generating wealth and progress in this and other countries.

Ronald Coase once observed in his famous hy،hetical of a fight between a farmer and rancher that the c،ice was simply what people favored “cattle or crops.” The people of Florida may soon have to decide between cattle and capitalism.

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منبع: https://jonathanturley.org/2024/02/11/whats-the-beef-with-cultivated-meat-florida-moves-toward-putting-cattle-before-capitalism/