Food Innovation Leaders Gather in Washington D.C. to Promote Alternative Proteins
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A delegation of food innovation leaders, CEOs, scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors from leading plant-based and cellular agriculture companies recently met in Washington, D.C. to discuss the importance of American leadership in building a safe, secure, and sustainable food supply.
In the first meeting of its kind, the groups came together with a mission aimed at advocating on behalf of their respective industries’ agriculture, climate, biotechnology, and biomanufacturing priorities. They also sought to raise awareness for diversified, innovative agricultural tools and foods that utilize technological advances for the benefit of human and planetary health.
Coalition for a sustainable food system
Companies in attendance included Eat Just, Finless Foods, Impossible Foods, Next Gen Foods, and Oatly as well as industry and advocates and trade associations including the Plant-Based Food Association (PBFA) and the Good Food Institute (GFI).
The event came amid Farm Bill sessions on Capitol Hill as lawmakers have been looking at ways to bring sustainability to the forefront of the key piece of legislation. In February, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) called the American food system “broken”, saying the food deserts in New Jersey and farmers and ranchers in the Midwest are all part of the same system “that’s hurting all of our families,” he said. Booker has been an advocate for a switch to a plant- and tech-forward shift in the food system.
“Many of the subsidies in the Farm Bill were created to support commodity crops and not the fruits and vegetables that families need,” the Senator said. “What the government is telling us is incongruent with American policy and farm subsidies. This is not a partisan issue, it’s an American issue.”
Some of the most successful plant-based and cellular agriculture companies are founded and headquartered in the U.S., and the groups say investments and regulatory certainty from the federal government can help foster further economic growth and strength in the country by supporting these ventures.
Bruce Friedrich, founder and president of the Good Food Institute, expressed optimism about creating a world where alternative proteins are no longer seen as “alternatives.”
“We believe the 118th Congress can help make that vision a reality,” Friedrich said. “Along with our industry partners, including the companies that convened on Capitol Hill today, GFI looks forward to sharing its policy priorities with Congressional leaders.”
As the global demand for animal products increases, fostering innovative and sustainable food production methods is becoming increasingly important. Plant-based food products and a separate category of animal-based products made via cellular agriculture offer new and varied opportunities to help the U.S. build a resilient and nutritious food supply.
Rachel Dreskin, CEO of the Plant-Based Food Association, says the group wants to ensure that American farmers and rural communities at the core of the food system are reaping the benefits of the changing food system. “The Farm Bill represents a powerful opportunity for policymakers to bolster infrastructure and support farmers to enable them to be active participants and beneficiaries in a more sustainable and resilient food system,” she said.
The coalition said the U.S. government can maintain its global leadership in the sector by investing in the future of food through research, development, and consumer education, creating a market and regulatory ecosystem that allows for innovation and maintains U.S. competitiveness, and prioritizing good jobs and workforce development throughout the supply chain.
As Congress and federal agencies prepare for the 2023 Farm Bill and the fiscal year 2024 appropriations cycle, the group urges officials to pay special attention to this sector as a solution for solving some of the nation’s most urgent issues.