Sometimes, in an attempt to understand the changing narratives in the United States, it might be worthwhile looking to the Old World.
Yes, the Old World of Europe, from which the founders of America both inherited and rejected values, beliefs, habits, and traditions alike.
Though as of late, I glanced to the boot shaped peninsula in southern Europe—Italy.
“In defense of health, of the Italian production system, of thousands of jobs, of our culture and tradition, with the law approved today,” Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida posted on Facebook in November 2023, as translated by the New York Post.
“Italy is the first nation in the world to be safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food.”
According to the Washington Examiner, the new law bans the “use, sale, import and export of lab-grown food.”
Now, you might be wondering:
“What are the risks of so-called ‘lab-grown food’ to compel a national ban?”
Indeed, it is a serious question since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lab-grown “cell-cultured meat” in November 2022. Fast forward to June 2023, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave the thumbs up to such artificial food produced by two California companies being sold to the public for the first time.
An attempt to mimic meat, “cell-cultured meat” or “cultivated meat” is laboratory-grown from the biological cells of genuine animals.
Therefore, manufacturers such as GOOD Meat and UPSIDE Foods take a sample of cells from a living animal and place them in a controlled environment to support their growth; during this process, added protein growth factors and edible synthetic polymer scaffolds stimulate the cells to multiply into billions of cells and develop into muscle, fat, and connective tissue that resembles meat.
For now, UPSIDE Foods’ “chicken” is available at Dominique Crenn’s Bar Crenn in San Francisco, while GOOD Meat’s synthetic produce is sold at China Chilcano by José Andrés in Washington D.C.
It’s fair to say that this “cultivated meat” market went off to a quiet start in the U.S. while thumped with a heavy ban in at least one European country.
In fact, in 2021, Singapore became the first country to sell lab-grown “meat,” as produced by GOOD Meat, a subsidiary brand of U.S. plant-based “eggs” producer Eat Just—this synthetic grub was promoted to the public as tasty “chicken nuggets.” That same year, Qatar was poised to become the second country to allow such artificial food grown in bioreactors to reach restaurant plates.
And you might want to familiarize with various buzz words, including “lab-grown,” “cultivated,” or “cell-cultured meat,” and even “animal-free” and “clean meat,” all of which indicate the synthetic, laboratory-cultivated production of food resembling meat.
It is arguably the case that lab-grown “meat” is an ultra-processed food, and some studies have shown links to cancer and cardiometabolic diseases with certain ultra-processed foods, mainly animal-based products and artificially sweetened beverages.
Given the insight into potential adverse effects, one might be tempted to know the sources of investment driving chemical-rich, synthetic food to be produced in the first place and promoted to the general public as meat.
For starters, with no pun intended, companies focused on “cultivated meat” raised over $1.3 billion in 2021 and $634 million in the first half of 2022, according to the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit think tank on a mission to develop a “roadmap for a sustainable, secure, and just protein supply.”
In fact, a range of individuals, organizations and even governments have made significant contributions to the “cell-cultured meat” industry.
A 2022 article, entitled “Why Is Bill Gates Amassing Large Amounts of Farmland While Advocating for ‘Synthetic Meat’ in America?” explored the co-founder of Microsoft’s enormous appetite for investing in “synthetic meat” enterprises to fight “climate change”—one of his arguments being that since cows emit a greenhouse gas, beef ought to be produced using synthetic proteins.
(Needless to say UPSIDE Foods is a company backed by Bill Gates, so there are no surprises there, but it’s necessary to state and confirm our many suspicions explicitly.)
Now bear in mind the U.S., U.K., Netherlands and the State of Israel.
In 2021, the U.S. government pumped $10 million toward establishing a National Institute for Cellular Agriculture, while two years later, the U.K. government invested over $15 million in a comparable research center to grow “sustainable protein and cultivated meat.”
In 2022, the State of Israel gave an $18 million grant to a conglomerate of 14 “cell-cultured meat” companies, and 10 universities and research centers. Meanwhile, that same year, the Dutch government committed $60 million of public funding to create an ecosystem around cellular agriculture to develop “cultivated meat” and “animal-free diary.”
For some readers, it may take a while to digest; for others, such insight is similar to pouring water or brushing teeth in the morning.
And then there is a host of individuals who have blended in their support, each of whom has been praised by, or participated in, a highly influential international organization committed towards public-private partnerships through engaging political, business, and cultural leaders—a mission that invariably leans towards centralization of power.
In 2010, internationally recognized chef and restaurateur José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides fresh meals in the wake of natural disasters and humanitarian crises—while working to build food systems that ensure a sufficient supply of acceptable and accessible food. Part of his vision as a culinary innovator involves serving lab-grown “chicken” for the first time in the United States.
In 2021, Hollywood actor and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher announced an investment in MeaTech 3D, now known as Steakholder Foods, to develop “clean meat” for the general public. The Israeli-based “cultivated meat” company focuses on 3D printing whole cuts of edible material resembling the appearance and taste of structured beef, pork, chicken, and ground meat.
That same year, Oscar Award-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio chose to support Israeli company Aleph Farms, and Dutch company Mosa Meat, for their mission to replace standard meat with supposedly more “environmentally friendly” cell-cultured alternatives—probably because it will not produce the methane gas typically released through cow farts and will “save the planet.”
In the last few years, Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia, founder and CEO of assets management firm KBW Ventures, has also poured money into lab-grown “meat” or “cellular agriculture” company—UPSIDE Foods.
Singapore’s global investment company, Temasek Holdings Ltd., and the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund (ADG) drove a significant investment of $400 million Series C in UPSIDES Foods, valuing the company over $1 billion, according to ION Analytics. It is worth noting that the government of Singapore owns Temasek, while the government of Abu Dhabi owns the ADG.
Furthermore, even conventional meat companies such as Tyson Foods, JBS and Cargill have invested in “cell-cultured” alternatives, with JBS acquiring Spain-based startup BioTech Foods, Cargill investing in Memphis Meats and Aleph Farms, and Tyson investing in Steakholder Foods.
ResearchAndMarkets.com estimates the global cell-cultured or cellular agriculture “meat” sector will grow at an annual rate of 24.1 percent between 2025 and 2035, and reach roughly $2 billion by 2035.
It may be worthwhile to note the emergence of such “food tech companies” across the globe and to familiarize with top and emerging names for safeguarding:
UPSIDE Foods, Inc., formerly known as Memphis Meats, founded in the United States, 2015 and raised $598 million
Aleph Farms Ltd., founded in Israel, 2017 and raised $119.4 million
Steakholder Foods Ltd., formerly known as MeaTech 3D, founded in Israel, 2017 and raised $31.4 million
Avant Meats, founded in Hong Kong, 2018 and raised $13.9 million
Ivy Farm Technologies Ltd., founded in the U.K., 2019 and raised $31.4 million
Biftek.co, founded in Turkey, 2020 and raised $1.5 million
Armed with the knowledge that individuals, organizations and governments investing in the synthetic food industry—regardless of their self-perceived humanitarian mission—tend to align with institutions that embrace centralization of power and exhibit a relentless need to micromanage our daily lives, we can make proactive choices to reject top-down control and support bottom-up decentralization.
A bottom-up approach means that, aside from supporting farmers producing real meat using natural farming, try growing organic food where time and resources permit, starting with simple herbs, vegetables and fruit.
And if you’re arriving home exhausted after a long day at work—and the last thought is sowing potato or carrot seeds—perhaps try to buy from independent farmers growing natural or organic food and distributing such produce locally.
Furthermore, consider familiarizing with the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act, which would allow farmers to sell meat processed at small-scale slaughterhouses and permit states to set their own meat processing standards. To this end, consider reaching congressional district representatives and encouraging them to vote in favor of the PRIME Act.
Currently, federal inspection requirements do not cater for staff at small slaughterhouses, so they are prohibited from selling their meat. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, the PRIME Act would lift this regulation, maintain USDA inspections, and make meat more locally available.
Every little act that supports natural farming, and rejects synthetic edible substances grown in a bioreactor, could accumulate in a positive direction for ourselves, our loved ones, future generations—and towards the growth of our great American Republic.
Content syndicated from Dear Rest of America with permission
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