‘War of words’ over what to call lab-grown meat exposes divide in America’s food culture

lab meat
Image: Slate/catalby/iStock; Lisovskaya

On [July 12th], in a small but packed auditorium, the FDA convened a public meeting about lab-grown meat—but you wouldn’t have known that if you were listening for those words. According to the FDA, it was actually about “foods produced using animal-cell culture technology.”

Maggie Nutter of the United States Cattlemen’s Association began her four minutes of public comment by introducing herself as a fourth-generation Montana rancher who is training her children and grandchildren to be fifth- and sixth-generation ranchers. It was an appeal to tradition—to the idea of family farms and pastoral ways.

If nostalgia for traditional foodways is one pole for the current food movement, the other is environmental and social responsibility. That’s why activists have leapt from the favored scientific term cultured meat (referring to the cell cultures in which it grows) to clean meatClean serves many roles here: It echoes clean energy. It’s a nod to the lack of animal slaughter. And it refers to the sterile conditions under which the meat cells grow.

Related article:  Talking Biotech: Domesticating wild plants to seed new crops and foods

Jack Bobo, the chief communications officer of the biotech company Intrexon, favors the term craft meat over clean meat. The dinner table isn’t the place for moralizing, he told me at [the July 12th] meeting. Why not use a term that evokes craft breweries and hand-jarred pickles instead? The debate over what to call lab-grown meat is a debate over what values we deem most important in food.

Read full, original article: The Farcical Battle Over What to Call Lab-Grown Meat

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