Imagine eating a delicious hamburger, made from real meat, with all the flavor and texture you're used to, without having to support the slaughter of innocent cattle and the destruction of our planet's rainforests. Sound like a fantasy? Believe it or not, this could be reality as early as 2021.
Already, scientists have succeeded in growing hamburgers from just a few cells taken painlessly from a live cow. Now, they're steadily decreasing the cost and increasing the scale of production of such burgers, known as "clean meat," and they expect cell-based burgers to reach the marketplace shortly. These burgers and similar clean-meat products could revolutionize our food industry, drastically reducing the amount of resources needed to feed us and eliminating tons of greenhouse gas emissions. But this can happen only if there's an efficient path to market for clean meat — something that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have agreed to work on together, given the former's expertise in meat products labelling and the latter's expertise in cell-based technology. Unfortunately, Congress — prompted by the beef industry, which vocally opposes FDA involvement in clean-meat regulation — is considering a rider known as Section 736 for inclusion in this year's appropriations bill. This rider would force the USDA to tackle clean meat alone and would demand additional red tape that neither agency has deemed necessary.
I hope our representatives like U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer stand up to corporate greed and ensure a clear path forward for clean-meat technology by eliminating this rider from the appropriations bill.