Would a ban on lab grown meat in the US affect the UK?

By Taly Dvorkis

- Last updated on GMT

How woukld a ban on cell-cultured meat in the US affect the UK market?
How woukld a ban on cell-cultured meat in the US affect the UK market?

Related tags cultured meat

In the wake of several Republican-led states in the US pushing for a ban or limit on the sales of cell-cultivated meat, we asked a legal expert what impact – if any – it could have on the UK?

Taly Dvorkis, regulatory director at law firm Fieldfisher, considers that the calls among some in the US for bans on lab grown meat are unlikely to impact the position in the UK, where the UK Government and Food Standards Agency (FSA) have been very supportive of the development of lab grown meat.

The UK Government and key regulators, particularly the Food Standards Agency, have been very supportive of the development of lab grown meat, sustainable proteins, and novel foods.  Following Brexit, the UK Government and various agencies have been under pressure to deliver so-called ‘Benefits of Brexit’.

In January 2022, the Government confirmed its intention to make novel food authorisation a ‘Benefit of Brexit’ priority,​ stating that it would work with the FSA to ‘update the process for approving novel foods, to create a transparent and effective system that is the best in the world for innovators, investors and consumers and encourages safe innovation in the sustainable protein sector’.  

Encouraging novel foods

The UK Government has and continues to encourage novel food and cultivated meat R&D in the UK.  In April 2023, UK Research and Innovation, a public body sponsored by the UK's Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, pledged over £12m in investment to sustainable proteins and precision fermentation. There have been multiple grants given to biotech firms developing cultivated meat and it continues to be a growing industry. 

While the investments certainly encourage companies to set up shop in the UK, a question remains on how quickly the novel foods will receive regulatory approval to be marketed. 

The FSA is in the process of implementing reforms to make regulatory approval more efficient to allow more companies to bring their products to market sooner. 

Forward thinking

The FSA has been one of the most forward thinking and collaborative regulatory bodies, understanding the benefits and need for sustainable food production while never compromising on consumer safety.  

In Europe, some governments have been more supportive than others when it comes to the development of cultivated meats. In 2023, Italy moved to ban lab grown meat to protect food heritage, and other countries, including France and Austria, have argued of the risks of lab grown meat at the EU-level. 

However, the Netherlands has been at the forefront of cultivated meat production, and has set the conditions in which cultivated meat and seafood products can be tasted in controlled environments.

Meanwhile, Meatable has cut the development time of its cultivated meat products by half,​bringing the company closer to its goal of commercialisation and large-scale production more broadly.

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