Meat by any other name: The regulatory challenge of cell-based animal material


Room 608, Level 6, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton, 3053


Legal battles over the future and meaning of “meat” are underway in US parliaments, courts and federal food regulatory agencies. The US Congress is set to consider two bills that limit the kinds of words that can be used to describe meat-like, animal-free products, while a constitutional challenge has been launched against US state laws that limit how such foods are marketed. The fight over ‘minds, mouths and markets’ for meat is coming to Australia. In this presentation, Dr Hope Johnson will map the recent regulatory developments in the US about cell-based animal material, and its influence and implications for Australia. By presenting the findings of a discourse analysis of the US regulatory debates, this talk explores the kinds of issues that Australian regulators will have to deal with. It considers whether the suite of biotechnologies deployed for cell-based materials are reconstituting legal categories for food and with it meat culture. In doing so, this talk explores the kinds of regulatory approaches, institutional arrangements and modes of coordination between actors that could emerge in Australia, and points to the set of assumptions and power differentials that could underlie such responses.


Dr Hope Johnson researches food and agricultural law and policy at the Institute for Future Environments and QUT's School of Law. Her work grapples with the intersections between ecological systems, human rights and the law in complex food systems. Her work extends across international economic law, IP, food standards and environmental law. Recent research from Hope has focused on the socio-legal implications of new and emerging scientific technological innovations and on the possibilities for more integrative approaches to food systems governance.

This seminar is part of the Sustainable Food System Seminar Series hosted by MSSI.