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U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., introduced legislation today that would cement into law how government agencies regulate food produced using animal cell-culture technology.

The legislation would ensure that an agreement reached earlier this year between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would have the force of law. This agreement was designed to leverage the expertise of both agencies to protect the country’s food supply and help ensure safe and accurately-labeled products.

“Emerging technologies may reshape the food industry in the coming years,” Enzi said. “Existing food safety laws were drafted long before these technologies were contemplated. Our legislation would create an up-to-date framework in law so agencies appropriately work together to ensure folks know what they are eating and that it is safe.”

“Americans shouldn’t have to guess what they are buying at the grocery store checkout line,” said Tester. “We need to make sure these products are clearly labeled for consumers so folks can make informed choices about what they’re feeding their families.”

Cell-culture technology may allow developers to grow animal tissue for human consumption in labs from animal cell cultures. Commercialization of the resulting products is expected in the coming years.

For food products derived from livestock or poultry cells, the agreement – which this legislation would codify – charges FDA with overseeing the process of multiplying collected cells to make tissue and USDA with overseeing processing, packaging and labeling. For products not derived from livestock or poultry cells, FDA would oversee all phases of development and production.

Click here to read the bill text.