Currently there’s a debate as to whether future cellular AG technology should be regulated by the FDA or USDA. There’s also debate as to what this technology should be called. Many proponents for this cellular technology prefer the term “clean meat” and want the FDA rather than the USDA to have regulatory oversight. These proponents believe that the USDA is too sympathetic to conventional meat industry concerns.
This past July, without inviting the USDA to be involved, the FDA held a public meeting on this cellular Ag technology. Many witnesses from the cell Ag industry and the conventional meat industries testified. More recently, the FDA released a request for public comment. A request for that public comment can be found here at this hyperlink: Foods Produced Using Animal Cell Culture Technology; Public Meeting; Request for Comments. So if you’d also like to make a comment, click this hyperlink and leave your comments or concerns. Below is the brief comment that I left.
Hello, I’ve made a concerted effort to get beyond the “clean meat” greater marketing campaign to get a better understanding of this new product. This has been difficult because developers aren’t very forthcoming about their proprietary processes. Nonetheless, I wrote the attached and hyper linked summary Lab Meat: More Hype than Substance of my findings. The following are a few key points:
1). The product isn’t “meat” . Though, for now, derived from animals (rather than acelleular technology or other genetic technology to replicate and create immortal cells), the product is much less complex than meat. For example, It doesn’t contain connective tissue. I call the product what it is- cultured stem cell proteins or CSCP for short. Thus if product wishes to be called “meat”, it really should be regulated by USDA. Otherwise, the product should be called something other than meat (again CSCP) if regulated by FDA.
2). The CSCP is not necessarily “clean”. The growing stem cells generate a lot of waste specifically ammonia and lactic acid that needs to be continuously filtered from the cell media. What happens to all this waste? Don’t know. Waste disposal should come under regulatory review. Any contamination during the process could ruin the entire batch of CSCP. What could cause contamination? Source of stem cells, cell media components, etc. So these items and the processes required to maintain purity need oversight so that there isn’t any contamination.
3). To produce at scale will require a lot of infrastructure and non-intermittent energy. May also require a lot of “blue” water. So the whole process is not necessarily as large of a resource saver as claimed. Regardless, all these facilities will require regulation to make sure that proper water temperatures are maintained, waste filtered, etc. Whose purview this should come under? Don’t know but certainly needs health department oversight like a HAACP plan would.