I’m writing to encourage Rep. Rob Bishop and the rest of Congress to drop rider SEC 736 from the Farm Bill. This rider would force the USDA to issue new regulations on “clean meat” or “cell-based meat,” even though the USDA and FDA are already working together to oversee the safe production of these foods.“Clean meat” refers to meat that’s produced without slaughtering an animal. Instead, stem cells are harvested from healthy livestock and grown into animal muscle tissue that can then be consumed just like meat from slaughtered animals.
The positive implications for reducing world hunger, animal suffering, environmental degradation, food production costs and food poisoning are astounding. For instance, clean meat could eliminate E. coli, salmonella and other dangerous and sometimes deadly bacteria from meat.
But this is a new area of technology, and it will only work if clear and sensible regulation of clean meat products is put into place. The FDA has the necessary expertise working with cell-based technology, while the USDA has more experience regarding label and packaging requirements for meat. That’s why the two agencies agreed to share enforcement responsibilities.