- 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.
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