Congressman John Larson supports existing funds for cultivated-meat research
Representative John Larson recently sent me a letter answering a number of questions I had about his positions on cellular agriculture. Thanks to Praveen Varanasi for suggesting questions to ask. I’ve attached a copy of John Larson’s letter to the end of this post.
SLAUGHTER-FREE AMERICA: What is your opinion of cultivated meat and do you see yourself supporting the new industry?
JOHN LARSON: Nascent industries such as cultivated meat that can help decarbonize our economy deserve a fair shot. I support the $10 million grant the USDA recently gave to Tufts University to further study the potential to grow and scale up this new technology and the National Science Foundation grant of $3.5 million given to University of California.
SFA: Seeing as how animal agriculture is a leading cause of greenhouse-gas emissions, how do you see cultivated meat playing a role in reducing our agricultural emissions?
JL: If cultivated meat can successfully launch as a consumer product and scale up to meet demand in the way that plant-based proteins have in the last few years, then that would be a game changer environmentally. Agriculture accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., so there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce our impact on the planet and be good stewards of our environment, but the availability of a reduced-impact meat substitute would certainly help.
SFA: Given its ability to transform our agricultural system for the better, would you support federal funding for open-access research into cultivated meat?
JL: The federal government funding of the institute at Tufts and UC Davis will be an excellent opportunity to research the best way to make cultivated meat a reality in our grocery stores.
SFA: The U.S. is at risk of ceding its leadership on cultivated meat to other countries, which are investing heavily into cultivated meat. How can we ensure that cultivated meat industry players are incentivized to stay in the U.S.?
JL: Right now, there are a few countries that are working on cultivated meat productsand have announced that their production facilities are up and running. However, it is essential that cultivated meat meet rigorous federal standards for any perishable foodssold in the US. We must make sure the safety of the consumer comes first. The goodnews is that the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has already begun a process to make this possible. I think the recent funding is an excellent step in expanding this new technology.
SFA: How do you see government procurement helping to scale up this new industry?
JL: I am excited that cultivated meat could help with the resiliency of our food supply, cut back on unnecessary waste and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Federal government food procurement is a complex and competitive process, and we hope that when cultivated meat companies become approved USDA vendors they can participate on level footing in the process.