Horse News

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Doesn’t Want Plant-Based or Clean Meat to be Called ‘Beef’ … Because We’re Winning

by as posted on OneGreenPlanet

Awwww, are these guys Pioneer Woman’s (Ree Drummond) buddies, too?”

Major eye roll! The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) recently filed a 15-page petition (you can view it in its entirety here) with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the silliest of reasons. USCA is asking the USDA to make a distinction between conventional meat and lab-grown meat (also known as “clean meat“) and plant-based meat by having a formal definition. In other words, the USCA doesn’t believe lab-grown or plant-based meat should be called “beef.” Yeah, um, good luck with that.

“[The government] should require that any product labeled as ‘beef’ come from cattle that have been born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, rather than coming from alternative sources such as a synthetic product from plant, insects, or other non-animal components and any product grown in labs from animal cells,” reads the petition.

The USCA went on to ask the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to make the definition of “meat” to include the flesh of animals that have been “harvested in the traditional way.” We’re assuming “traditional” here means animals that have been cruelly slaughtered and filled with nasty antibiotics and hormones.

Hey … come to think of it, if the USCA wants to change the definition of beef because they feel threatened by plant-based proteins, perhaps the lab-grown meat industry should ask that “traditional” beef be labeled as “filled with gross antibiotics of a once tortured living, breathing animal.” Seems only fair, right?

USCA also said that not only are they petitioning to limit the definition of “beef,” but the group also announced that keeping consumers away from “fake meat and misleading labels on products that do not contain real beef” would be a major part of their 2018 policy agenda. Sounds like this outdated industry is desperate to win a losing battle…

The days of factory farming are numbered and you know it, USCA, otherwise, you wouldn’t pull such a meaningless stunt. If you don’t get with the times quickly, you might be left out of the cool kids’ table. After all, a lot of major meat corporations are hedging their bets and investing more into plant-based as well as clean meat companies.

Cargill, the world’s largest privately held food and agriculture company in the world, has made many moves into the plant-based industry. The company recently teamed up with plant-based company PURIS to help build a second pea protein plant in the U.S. Not only that, but food giant Nestlé recently bought plant-based company Sweet Earth Foods, and Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat processor, just invested in the world’s first lab-grown meat company, Memphis Foods. Oh, and then there is the immense popularity of plant-based burgers, the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger, which have both been met with eager demand.

Thankfully, consumers are becoming more and more aware of what’s in their food and are actively seeking out plant-based options. With increasing concern for animal welfare, health, and environmental reasons, clean meat and plant-based meats have taken center stage in the fight to save our planet. As the rising trends toward plant-based proteins show, lab-grown meat will easily replace factory farming within the next decade, with the plant-based meat market projected to rise to $6.43 billion by 2023. In other words, give it up, USCA!

To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias.

3 replies »

  1. It must be said that not all livestock are raised or treated cruelly, nor treated with antibiotics or hormones, especially true for small, locally grown small farm and ranch enterprises with a small environmental footprint and local buyers. I support natural reproduction and emphasizing natural living conditions for all animals under human care.

    However, the argument OneGreenPlanet addresses gets very convoluted when (as is happening already) beef muscle cells can be cultured and grown in laboratories. So these are not plant based but by DNA are actually “beef” just replicated in ways that use far fewer resources, especially water. Since modern livestock genetics widely use cloned animals and embryo transfers, the arguments about what is “natural” reproduction and what isn’t tangle up pretty quickly. Artificial insemination is already in wide use as it is cost effective and allows more consistent production, the same arguments being made for lab reproduction of meat cells. The costs are coming down rapidly, and the truth is that these methods will scale, and scale quickly. Here’s one example (I think the $10 price will also drop substantially in short order):

    “…the cost of producing this high-tech meat has plummeted. In January 2016, a company called Memphis Meats produced a ‘cultured meatball’ for around $1,000, and today start-ups and non-profit organisations are working on other lab-grown animal products including pork chicken, turkey, fish, milk, egg whites, gelatin, and even leather.

    Dr Mark Post, the Dutch scientist who created the $300,000 burger, believes it would be possible to make improved versions of the patties for around $10 each if his technology could be scaled up to the level of an industrial food process.”


  2. Maybe USCA members are whining like 3-year olds, but there are a few things that are deserving of consideration. For instance, labeling imitation-beef products as if they were actually beef may be bad for vegetarian businesses. Imagine the backlash if vegans found out that they were eating real beef burgers as opposed to imitation-beef burgers. There needs to be some distinction to avoid confusion. In addition, isn’t lab-grown meat genetically modified? Isn’t it experimental? How can we verify that it’s truly safe for human consumption?


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