The meat and dairy industries’ war on alternatives to their products is underway. In May, meat lobbyists got US House lawmakers to insert language into a spending bill directing the USDA to regulate all meat and poultry grown from cells. After the FDA held a surprisingly balanced forum on such “clean meat,” which it indicated its intention to regulate, the American Farm Bureau joined with all the major animal ag groups to lobby President Trump to put the USDA in charge. This may seem like an obscure jurisdictional dispute. But the stakes could be high: one FDA and USDA law expert told a gathering that if the animal ag-friendly USDA regulates clean meat it “will not see the market in the lifetime of anyone in this room." Plant-based meat and dairy are also under attack. In May, Missouri mandated that only “harvested production livestock or poultry” can call itself “meat.” In June, North Carolina directed its bureaucrats to “prohibit the sale of plant-based products mislabeled as milk.” And in July, the FDA signaled interest in policing the use of “milk” on plant-based milks — something the dairy industry has lobbied for since 2000. When Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced an amendment earlier this month to stop the FDA’s action, it was defeated 84-14 in the full Senate. This is part of a global trend. The European Court of Justice ruled last year, in the well-titled Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb eV v TofuTown.com, that plant-based products could not use terms like “milk,” “cream,” or “cheese.” French cattle farmer and MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau followed up this April with a law that forbids the use of “names associated with products of animal origin” to market foods “containing a significant proportion of plant-based materials.” Dutch authorities even forced the Vegetarian Butcher to rename its “fish-free tuna” late last year, to the benefit of apparently deeply confused Dutch carnivores.
Bollard, L., (2018). The War on Animal Product Alternatives Farm Animal Welfare Newsletter, 15 Aug. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/farm-animal-welfare-newsletter-archive. Open Philanthropy, San Francisco, USA.