Not the usual science-mag fare, but yesterday USA Today had a story that’s sort of about business and sort of about unintended consequences of cutting-edge technology in the kitchen… and the courtroom. The state of Missouri has just passed a law that you can’t call lab-grown meat “meat”:
Clean meat – also known as lab-grown meat – is made of cultured animal tissue cells, while plant-based meat is generally from ingredients such as soy, tempeh and seitan.
The state law forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Violators may be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for a year.
A similar argument is unfolding on the federal level.
The meat-substitute market is expected to reach $7.5 billion-plus globally by 2025, up from close to $4.2 billion last year, according to Allied Market Research.
“The big issue was marketing with integrity and … consumers knowing what they’re getting,” Missouri Cattlemen’s Association spokesman Mike Deering said. “There’s so much unknown about this.”
On Monday, the company that makes Tofurky filed an injunction in a Missouri federal court to prevent enforcement of the statute, alleging the state has received no complaints about consumers befuddled by the term “plant-based meats” and that preventing manufacturers from using the word is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Plus, it pointed out, “meat” also refers to the edible part of nuts and fruit.
Deering said he was surprised by the suit because the primary target of the law was lab-grown meat.
Tofurky’s main ingredient is the the first two syllables of its name – tofu.
“I have always envisioned Tofurky serving a greater purpose beyond the plate, acting as an engine for global change,” said Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos in a statement about the suit. “Using our privately-held position to extinguish threats to legal definitions of terms like “meat,” is one way we can further our mission to help reduce global dependence on animal agriculture; therefore, improving environmental sustainability, animal welfare and human health.”