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New Florida resident Jeff Bezos invested $60 million to make lab-grown meat taste better. Ron DeSantis just banned it in the state

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may have crossed paths with a formidable new voter.

The former presidential candidate this week signed legislation banning the sale of lab-grown meat in the state of Florida, saying the Sunshine State wants to stop the World Economic Forum’s goal of “forcing the world to eat lab-grown meat and insects.” laboratory”. In 2021, the WEF said insects could be a way to help the world’s population eat more sustainably and that AI could help insects reproduce, fueling online conspiracy theories.

The move is unusual, given that lab-grown meat is not available for sale in the U.S. However, Florida ranks 13th in the U.S. in total livestock numbers with a total herd size of 886,000 among 15,000 beef producers with total sales of $546 million. according to the Florida Beef Council. The move could be a shot across the bow, however, as Florida has become a haven for billionaires who often fund and launch food innovations aimed at remedying the effects of climate change. One of them is the new snowbird Jeff Bezos. Bezos Earth Fund Vice President Lauren Sánchez, Bezos’ fiancee, announced in March an initial $60 million investment in sustainable proteins, including plant-based, fermented and cultured meats. The investment is part of a billion-dollar commitment to expand food production. “We need to feed 10 billion people with healthy, sustainable food throughout this century while protecting our planet. We can do it and it will require a lot of innovation,” Sánchez said in a statement.

Cultured or lab-grown meat is different from an Impossible burger and others of its kind. It is made by taking animal meat and scientifically replicating the cellular structures, eradicating the need to raise animals. The nonprofit Good Food Institute reports that the cultured meat industry has grown to include more than 150 companies backed by $2.6 billion in investments, and Bezos is among those funding the sector.

The Amazon founder announced in November 2023 that he would leave Seattle for Miami, a move that likely saved him more than $140 million thanks to the state’s tax code. He bought a third mansion in the state this month, a $90 million property on Indian Creek Island, an area of ​​South Florida known as Billionaire Bunker. He joins Citadel’s Ken Griffin and tech giants Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, who have acquired more office space in Florida. Miami Dolphins owner and developer Stephen Ross, another billionaire, is deeply involved in making South Florida more like Manhattan. Ross hosted an event last month, which DeSantis attended, to raise money for a Florida-based Vanderbilt University Nashville campus.

However, this week DeSantis declared that Florida was “fighting the global elite’s plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or insects to achieve their authoritarian goals.”

Why is this viral when lab-grown meat is not for sale?

News of the ban spread like wildfire after a X user posted a photo of DeSantis last year during a campaign visit to a meat facility in southern Iowa. The facility is owned and operated by farmer, rancher and reality television star Steven McBee of The McBee dynasty. McBee’s partner Calah Jackson is in the back of the photo and caught attention online. “It’s the worst photo of me,” Jackson said. Fortune, clarifying that that day she was sick and not bored or upset. “I think she was waiting for Steven to finish talking so I could go home.”

After being alerted about the photo, she reposted it and received some 40 million views on her social media platforms. McBee suggested the photo appear next to the news because it was “the only photo of DeSantis and meat in any form.” DeSantis appears in the image in front of a table with raw meat from the ranch. She also sells shelf-stable, air-dried beef for “fitness freaks” like McBee and Jackson, she said. DeSantis visited the facility after her team contacted the farm to ask if she could stop by to visit the small business.

Ironically, McBee supports innovations in lab-grown meat, adding that while he is a farmer and rancher, he also focuses on regenerative agriculture.

“Obviously, I’m in the agriculture industry and I love small farms and ranches,” he said. Fortune. “But if lab-grown meat eliminates factory farms where animals are born and raised under a roof and never see sunlight or see grass, that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion.”

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