• Thirty-six leaders in the cellular agriculture industry in the Asian region signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreeing to the use of the English language term "cultivated" to describe animal products grown from animal cells. Many other terms including "cultured," lab-grown," and "cell-based" have also been used to describe such products. The MOU was announced at Singapore's International Agri-Food Week (SIAW) at the end of last month.

  • The MOU does not have the force of law and could be impacted by future national laws and regulations but does reflect agreement from regional industry leaders that the term "cultivated" should be used because it is a scientifically accurate term that distinguishes from traditional animal products and it elicits the most positive responses from consumers. The MOU indicates that more research is needed to determine how to translate the term into various Asian languages.

  • It is unclear whether this agreement will have any impact in the U.S., but it is noteworthy that some signatories, including Cargill, have an international presence. There are no commercially available "cultivated" animal-based products in the US, but in 2019 FDA and USDA signed a MOU regarding their respective jurisdiction over cultivated meat and poultry products (the MOU did not use the term "cultivated"). Per the agreement, FDA will regulate the early stages of development while USDA will regulate post-harvesting steps, including labeling. FDA has exclusive jurisdiction over cultivated seafood products, although the agencies have indicated that they will work jointly to ensure consistent labeling. In that regard, in 2021 USDA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on labeling of cultivated meat and poultry products (the ANPR used the term "cultured"), but no regulatory action appears to be forthcoming. Similarly, in 2021 FDA issued a request for information (RFI) regarding cultivated seafood (the RFI also used the term "cultured"), but the agency has also not yet taken any regulatory action.

  • We also note that several states have tried to enact bans on the use of animal-based terms (e.g., meat) on products that are not derived from animals (cultivated meat products and plant-based meat products), although courts have found such bans to be unconstitutional. See e.g., Enforcement of Arkansas Law Enjoined. We will continue to monitor and repot on any developments in the commercialization and regulation of cultivated animal products.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.