LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Companies are competing to bring lab-grown meat to dinner tables, but a group of lawmakers in Lansing wants to make sure those companies can’t label their product as “meat.”
A bill introduced in the State House today would ban “laboratory-grown meat substitute” from being labeled as “meat” in Michigan. It has been referred to the State House Committee on Agriculture.
Lab-grown meat is made from real animal cells that are grown into tissues in a bioreactor. The resulting product is sold as an alternative to normal meat. Supporters of the new industry say the product does not have the same environmental and ethical baggage that comes with raising and killing animals for meat.
However, according to a 2019 research paper published in “Frontiers in Nutrition,” the attitudes of consumers will play a major role in the future of lab-grown meat.
“We demonstrate that those who encounter cultured meat through the “high tech” frame have significantly more negative attitudes toward the concept,” the researchers reported, “and are significantly less likely to consume it.”
The reception to the lab-grown meat was much more positive when it was presented in light of its potential benefits, like a smaller carbon footprint and reduced need for hormones and antibiotics. Some supporters in the industry have embraced the term “clean meat.”
Michigan is not the first state to try to regulate how lab-grown meat can be labeled. For example, in 2018 the state of Missouri updated its advertising law to clarify that a product cannot be called “meat” unless it was derived from the “harvested production of livestock or poultry.”
However, a memorandum from the Missouri Department of Agriculture clarified that using the word “meat” is okay as long as a qualifying phrase like “lab-grown” was prominently included as well.