JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers have approved legislation that bans companies from labeling lab-grown meat products or meat substitutes as meat. The provision states that a product cannot be marketed as meat if it isn't derived from an animal with two or four feet, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported . It's part of a package of changes to state agriculture and conservation laws on its way to the governor's desk.
The legislation is backed by the state's pork producers, the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen's Association. "We're not trying to mislead anyone. We're just trying to protect our product," said Republican Rep. Jeff Knight, who sponsored the legislation.
Companies that produce vegetarian-based meat-like products objected to the proposal, raising concerns about free speech in advertising. Some companies argued that Missouri labels will need to be different from the rest of the country. Democratic Rep. Deb Lavender said that some vegetable products contain elements called "meat," such as jackfruit and nuts.
"We need to embrace the future," Lavender said. "There are many people who are eating differently than they used to." Democratic Rep. Tracy McCreery said she finds it disrespectful to consumers. "You guys are just trying to protect your marketing money," she said.
Missouri would be the first state to address the fake meat issue if the measure is signed into law. Missouri Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President Mike Deering said he expects other cattle groups to push for legislation in their respective states.
"This isn't a Missouri issue," Deering said. "This is about protecting the integrity of the products that farm and ranch families throughout the country work hard to raise each and every day."