May 18, 2024

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Encryption | These Republicans are “woke” against meat

Encryption |  These Republicans are “woke” against meat

(New York) A new front has opened up in the culture wars dividing America: “raised” meat. Would you be surprised to learn that Ron DeSantis is against it? He's not the only one in the camp of Republican carnivores to do so.


The word “woke” conveys an idea of ​​the political dimension of something that is not strictly speaking. We're talking about lab-grown meat, also known as cultured meat or cell-based meat (not to be confused with so-called plant-based meat).

This is what its promoters envision as the food of the future: meat derived from animal cells, placed in giant culture media called bioreactors to encourage their proliferation. The result of the process is a product that has the aroma, flavor and texture of beef, chicken or salmon.

In the US, the industry is still in its infancy. In June 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture approved the production and sale of cell-based chicken by two companies: Upside Foods and Food Meat. For a time, restaurants in San Francisco and Washington offered their customers the products of these companies.

This is the first step towards commercializing other lab-grown meats, with the aim of one day being available in all good supermarkets and restaurants.

Proponents of lab-grown meat see many benefits, including human health (reduced risk of contamination by pathogenic bacteria), animal welfare (reduced mass slaughter), and the future of the planet (reduced agricultural pollution and greenhouse gas emissions). )

Obviously there are drawbacks. The texture of lab-grown meat is still not optimal, especially for good old steak. Labs are energy intensive. And the costs are even higher.

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But investors include Bill Gates and food giants Cargill and Tyson Foods.

Bill Gates, fake meat and Nuremberg

But even before the industry took off, some red states were growing. Both houses of the Florida legislature passed a bill last March that would criminalize the sale, production or distribution of lab-grown meat. According to the text, violators face up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail.

All this in a state ruled by a party — Ronald Reagan's Grand Old Party (GOP) — that has already made free enterprise one of its top values.

Ron DeSantis's signature was not enough for the text to become law. The Republican governor already hates cell-based meat.

Photo by Bill Sears, Associated Press Archives

Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor

“We don't eat fake meat. It's not going to work,” he concluded last February, before denouncing “a whole ideological program that attacks so many key elements of our society.” Because the word “woke” is so often associated with the ideological agenda that Ron DeSantis is fighting, some media use it to label lab-grown meat. used

Hot on the heels of Florida, three other states with GOP-dominated legislatures — Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee — are considering bills aimed at cracking down on the meat industry in budding cellular. After an early setback, Texas could get back on track.

The promoters of the Tennessee text weren't laughing. Anyone selling farmed meat in their state could be fined $1 million. If the penalty is steep, the debate surrounding the issue is no less.

“Some people want to eat bugs with Bill Gates, but not me,” said Rep. Bud Halsey, Republican of Tennessee, who based his opposition to cell-based meat on the Nuremberg Code after World War II. Nazi medical experiments on humans.

God's meat

In Florida, state representative Dean Black, a rancher, gave his protest a religious dimension. “Cultural meat is not meat!” “, he thundered during a discussion in the room. “It is man-made. Real meat was made by God. »

He added: “If you really want to try nitrogen-based protein flour, go to California. »

Needless to say, the state of California is investing in cell-based meat.

Opponents of farmed meat are also understood to be under pressure from the influential livestock lobby.

But their disagreement is about drama and identity. In American politics, the expression “throwing red meat” is often used to describe rhetorical or inflammatory comments by tribunes seeking to stir emotions or build support.

However, in the matter of interest to us, it is not just a metaphor.

“For some Republican politicians, it's a strategy to trick right-wing male voters, especially, into thinking their way of life is under threat,” he explains. Pres Sparsha Saha is a lecturer at Harvard University and the only empirical political scientist studying the politics of meat.

“We know that masculine norms correspond to conservatism norms. And conservatism norms are associated with an attachment to meat. Researchers' experiments show that when meat-eating is threatened, men's masculinity is threatened. »

Does this explain the photos of huge steaks on the grill that some men post on social networks to cover so-called “awakenings”?