MISSOURI — The state of Missouri is cracking down on fake meat, becoming the first state in the nation to legally define “meat” as coming exclusively from real, live (well, obviously not anymore) animals. The Post-Dispatch reports the new law will go into effect Tuesday. Anyone caught violating it could face a $1,000 fine or jail time.
Proponents say the law will protect Missouri’s farmers and ranchers from, well, other farmers and ranchers — those growing soy beans, wheat or other vegetables that can be passed off as protein — in addition to mad scientists and their lab-grown meats.
So-called “clean meat” that is grown from cell cultures rather than taken from slaughtered animals has promised to “revolutionize the global food system,” according to the Good Food Institute, a leading proponent of the technology.
They say it’s cheaper, more sustainable, and cleaner — carrying no risk of E. coli, salmonella or other bugs and not requiring the use of antibiotics — than traditional meat production.
That’s all well and good, state officials say, just don’t call it meat. At least not in Missouri.
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“The big issue was marketing with integrity,” Missouri Cattlemen’s Association spokesman Mike Deering told the USA Today, adding that consumers should know what they’re getting.
But purveyors of meat substitutes aren’t taking the measure lying down. They say the law wasn’t written to protect consumers, but to protect cattle ranchers and pig and poultry farmers from competition.
Turtle Island Foods, the company that makes Tofurky — the staple of many a vegan Thanksgiving — is suing the state in conjunction with the Good Food Institute and animal rights groups. They say the law violates their First Amendment rights.
“Americans don’t like censorship, and they don’t like the government picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” Good Food executive director Bruce Friedrich told the Post-Dispatch, calling the law “unconstitutional.”
A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Agriculture told the paper that the department is still working out the best way to implement the law “in a way that Missouri will be proud of.”
Read more from the Post-Dispatch.
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