Brooklyn Law Review


In recent years, concern over the environmental, animal welfare, and human costs of animal agriculture has spurred an increased demand for nonanimal sourced protein. This has led to significant innovation in food technology. As part of this trend, food scientists have developed a process for in-vitro cultivation of meat cells to produce protein that is biologically and nutritionally identical to meat from traditionally raised and slaughtered animal sources, but that involves neither animal agriculture nor animal slaughter. This lab-grown “clean meat” represents a new era in food technology and is already having an effect on the existing meat industry. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture announced joint regulatory oversight of clean meat. This agreement is problematic, as the USDA is captured by the traditional meat industry, has consistently failed to protect consumers’ health and safety, and the Department’s statutory infrastructure and mandate is ill-suited to oversee meat production that involves neither agriculture nor animal slaughter. The FDA, on the other hand, is not beholden to the meat industry, and has extensive experience overseeing the development and introduction of new food products into the market. For these reasons, the FDA should use its power to determine “Standards of Identity” for foods to define clean meat in such a way that the FDA will be able to assume exclusive regulatory oversight of this burgeoning and exciting new food technology.