On August 28th, Missouri officially welcomed a new regulation into the books, a regulation that was sponsored and passed by Republicans. That’s odd, huh? Well, guess what it was about:
On Tuesday, Missouri became the first state in the country to have a law on the books that prohibits food makers from using the word “meat” to refer to anything other than animal flesh.
This takes aim at manufacturers of what has been dubbed fake or nontraditional meat.
Okay, seems simple enough. People surely don’t want to eat fake meat. Until you see who is fighting against the regulation:
On Monday, the company that makes Tofurky filed an injunction in a Missouri federal court to prevent enforcement of the statute, alleging the state has received no complaints about consumers befuddled by the term “plant-based meats” and that preventing manufacturers from using the word is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Plus, it pointed out, “meat” also refers to the edible part of nuts and fruit.
And who was in favor of the regulation:
The legislation is backed by the state’s pork producers, the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.
Looks a lot like the law may have been passed by Republicans at the urging of a specific business lobbying group aimed at limiting their competition.
Of course, Missouri Republicans are now claiming that was never their intention:
Deering said he was surprised by the suit because the primary target of the law was lab-grown meat.
Yeah, I’m not buying that. If that were the case, why not just write the law to prevent specifically lab-grown meat being called meat? Would have been easy enough. But, that’s not what they did. The law also targets vegetarian substitutes for meat, as it specifically states that it “prohibits food makers from using the word “meat” to refer to anything other than animal flesh”. That includes more than just lab-grown meat. That is not an accident. The fact that the law also targets vegetarian substitutes for meat was most likely the main purpose of the law, despite their claims otherwise.
Why do I think that? Because, besides the down-homey sounding Missouri Cattleman’s Association and the “local ranches” they are claiming to protect, Missouri is also home to, among others: The National Beef Company, based in Kansas City MO, the country’s fourth largest beef processing company; and Triumph Foods, based in St Joseph MO, one of the nation’s largest pork processing companies.
To put it succinctly, meat (the animal kind) is big business in Missouri. And that’s why the law was written: to protect those corporations.
So, the next time you hear a Republican politician griping about regulations, be aware that they are only griping because the regulation protects people. If the regulation protected corporations, they’d be all for it.