MONTGOMERY — On Thursday, the House of Representatives approved a Senate bill that would criminalize the manufacturing or sale of lab-grown meats in Alabama.

Senate Bill 23 (SB23) by State Sen. Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) would prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of food products produced from cultured animal cells within Alabama.

Cell culture is the process by which human, animal or insect cells are grown in a favorable artificial environment, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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State Rep. Danny Crawford (R-Athens) comically introduced the bill before the House, giving a terse introduction garnering him laughs throughout the room.

"They throw a couple of animal cells in there, throw some chemicals in there, some ingredients, and boom! You get a chicken leg out," Crawford said.

The House Health Committee changed the bill, clarifying that state entities, universities and federal institutions would still be allowed to research cultivated food products.

The bill would still make it a Class C felony to manufacture, sell, hold, offer for sale, or distribute any food product produced from cultured animal cells.

Newly elected State Rep. Marilyn Lands (D-Huntsville) objected to the bill, pulling from Huntsville's space industry and exclaiming, "This is the food of astronauts. We can't take a cow to the moon, after all."

"I thought Conservatives, Republicans were all about letting the free market do its work," Lands said. "And I don't believe that we should be dictating what people can eat or criminalize people who sell or service certain foods, even when they've received approval from the federal government. This makes no sense to me. We don't even do this with cigarettes."

Despite Lands' protestations, the bill passed 85-14 with two abstentions. The Senate must concur with any House changes before it goes to Gov. Kay Ivey's desk for a signature.

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