To anyone with an interest in that question, FDA’s public meeting later this week is a can’t miss event. Perhaps the most critical issue facing this nascent industry is the need for clarity on which federal agency – FDA or USDA – will exercise jurisdiction over which aspects of production and distribution. In announcing the public meeting, FDA appeared to stake an early claim to jurisdiction, but USDA officials reportedly have indicated that they don’t consider the matter settled.
The public meeting won’t resolve the jurisdictional question, but will serve as an important forum for stakeholders to make their voices heard (along with the docket for written comments). It is by no means the only forum that merits attention. As discussed in our prior postings (see here and here), a petition is already pending with USDA asking that agency to establish formal definitions of “meat” and “beef” that exclude what petitioners call lab grown meat. Further, Congress has shown interest in potentially weighing in, and any result dictated by Congress may not necessarily align with historical approaches.
All of this suggests there may be a bumpy ride ahead – and that’s without taking into account the battles that can be expected to unfold in the court of public opinion (see here as just one example).