ron desantis
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis after signing a bill banning artificial meat on May 1, 2024. Credit: Florida/Facebook

Florida Bans Lab-Grown Meat to Fight 'Global Elites'

Florida's governor said he's trying to stop the "elites" but critics say he's trying to appease his base.

This week, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis signed legislation banning the sale of lab-grown meat as part of an effort to combat "the global elite's plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs to achieve their authoritarian goals."

"Our administration will continue to focus on investing in our local farmers and ranchers, and we will save our beef," Desantis said in a statement, adding that the Sunshine State encourages residents to eat "100% real Florida beef."

The "elites" he's referring to is the World Economic Forum, which reported that the global population will outgrow the earth's food supply by 2050. The Forum called insects, such as mealworms and crickets, a "credible and efficient alternative protein source."

Wilton Simpson, Florida's commissioner of agriculture, called the measure "a tremendous step in the right direction" and described "lab-grown meat" as "a disgraceful attempt to undermine our proud traditions and prosperity."

With the signing of the bill, Florida became the first state to outright ban "cultivated meat," meaning any meat or food product produced from cultured animal cells. However, other Republican-led states are trying to pass similar measures.

Critics of the bill point out the irony of Desantis claiming to fight authoritarianism by limiting competition, especially for an industry that is still very much in its infancy.

"What happened to the Republicans who wanted the free market to choose winners and losers? Where is the party of limited government?" wrote Catherine Rampell, a political columnist for the Washington Post.

Rampell argued that politicians advance such measures as a way to appease their base and bow to agricultural lobbyists, who have "called for both outright bans or at least labels designed to stigmatize new meat products, in case you're wondering how this legislative sausage got made."