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Cultured meat will now be regulated by the FDA and USDA

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It’s not every day you see companies rejoicing at an announcement that the government is figuring out how to regulate their product.

But that’s exactly what happened Thursday, March 7, when the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they’d established a framework for regulating cell-based meat and poultry. The companies working on those products were thrilled.

Why? Well, cell-based meat companies have been arguing for years that their product is meat and should be regulated like meat from slaughterhouses. And they’ve pointed out that, for America’s “clean meat” industry to remain competitive with the clean meat industries in Israel, China, Singapore, the Netherlands, Japan, and other countries, companies need assurance that their product will be responsibly regulated by the USDA and the FDA.

Proponents believe cell-based meat has the potential to solve a bunch of the world’s biggest problems in one shot. They hope it can end animal cruelty on factory farms, combat climate change, reduce the use of antibiotics to keep animals alive in cramped conditions, and make it possible to feed a growing, increasingly wealthy global population.

But to do any of those things, consumer confidence is absolutely critical. If people don’t believe that cell-based meat products are safe, regulated, and healthy, then they’ll stick with slaughtered meat. “Consumers must have confidence that cultured meat products are safe for consumption and appropriately labeled,” said JUST, a meat-alternatives company, in a press release applauding the decision.

That’s how the cell-based meat industry ended up actively working to convince the US government to step in and exercise its regulatory authority — and that’s why they were encouraged by the government’s announcement. By stepping in to regulate cell-based meat, the government is treating it as food subject to the same oversight as the rest of our food. If cell-based meat can do half of what proponents hope, that’s a really big deal.

The new regulatory framework for cell-based meat

The government’s announcement wasn’t very big in itself.

It’s a “formal agreement” between the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration about how to treat cell-based meat products. Basically, regulation of meat involves both agencies — the USDA overlooking food processing, labeling, and distribution, and the FDA conducting inspections and safety checks — and the regulation of cell-based meat will, too. This agreement outlines which problems are the jurisdiction of which agency, so they can develop further guidelines without stepping on each others’ toes.

“It provides a transparent path to market for cell-based meat products,” Elan Abrell, a senior regulatory specialist at the Good Food Institute, told me. The Good Food Institute is working on cell-based and plant-based meat alternatives, and has been active in the fight for rules like these.

The risk that the uncertainty would slow investment in cell-based meat research was clearly on the mind of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, who has spoken at length in the last year about how to regulate cell-based meat. “We don’t want this new technology to feel like they’ve got to go offshore or outside the United States to get a fair regulatory protocol,” he said at a North American Meat Institute event last year.

The regulatory framework here is still preliminary, and it leaves some important questions unanswered — among them, labelling. Cell-based meat advocates argue that they should be allowed to label their products as meat, Abrell told me. In many states, legislation has been introduced — and in some cases has passed — prohibiting them from doing that.

The USDA’s labelling authority overrides that of the states — states are not allowed to impose labelling requirements incompatible with the standards that the USDA puts forward. That’s so we don’t end up with 50 different standards for the labelling of products, and higher food costs as companies try to comply with different requirements everywhere. So if the USDA says that cell-based meat products can be labelled as “cell-based meat,” “slaughter-free meat,” “clean meat,” or any of the other terms that have been proposed, that should settle the question.

In the real world, of course, it’ll be more complicated than that. Once a law is in place, someone has to have the grounds to sue, and then file a lawsuit, in order to change it. So if the USDA says it’s okay to label cell-based products as meat, there’ll likely be many lengthy fights in court before those labels are legal everywhere.

Abrell told me that the Good Food Institute was hoping the USDA’s leadership would stop such laws from being proposed and approved in the first place — that, now that the federal government is stepping up and characterizing their responsibilities on this issue, the states will stop trying to legislate meat-labelling law themselves.

Can cell-based meat live up to the hype?

In the regulatory agreement released Thursday, the cell-based meat industry cleared one major hurdle: US regulators are interested in ensuring that these technologies have a future here.

“We’ve got new technology with stem cell protein growth [referring to cell-cultured meat technology],” Purdue said in an interview last year. “Shouldn’t we in the United States be about how we can grow and feed people more efficiently and more effectively? … These techniques need to be embraced, not kept out.”

So cell-based meat will have its shot at living up to its promise. But will it?

There are still a number of hurdles to be overcome before we have cell-based meat in stores. First, there’s a challenge called “scaffolding” — figuring out how to shape cultured cells into tissue. Right now, cell-based meat techniques can make a decent replacement for, say, ground beef. But to replace a steak, you need to grow the cells into the tissues that they grow into in living animals. Researchers are still figuring out how to do that.

Once you have a product, there’s the question of scaling it. The hope for cell-based meat is that it can eventually meet all of the world’s demand for meat, which is steadily increasing as the world gets wealthier. To do that, it’s not enough to be able to make one steak — you need to be able to make steaks at the same incredible scale that factory farms do.

“There are lots of technical hurdles here to overcome,” Paul Mozdziak, a muscle biologist who studies lab-grown poultry at North Carolina State University, told Nature in February.

Then there’s the question of how much cell-based meat will help with climate change. Cell-based meat cultivation won’t produce methane, like our current agriculture does. But it’ll still be energy-intensive and thus relies on the availability of lots of renewable energy to avoid being carbon-intensive too. One study covered by my colleague Sigal Samuel argues that in the worst-case scenario it could be just as bad for the environment as conventional farming, though the study reached that conclusion with some highly questionable assumptions, like that our energy production methods won’t improve at all in the next 1,000 years.

With a regulatory framework now in place, proponents argue that these promises are likelier than ever to be achieved. Investors can invest more confidently, knowing that the US is working to ensure these products can be safely brought to market. With more money and more research, the remaining technical challenges might prove tractable.

But it’s also quite likely that cell-based meat will be slower to market than proponents hope and — at least initially — will not address all the problems it’s meant to. And it’s worryingly possible that, even if all goes well, consumers won’t be interested. All regulation can do is ensure cell-based meat products are safe, accurately labelled, and legal to bring to market.

For the companies working on those products, that’s enough for some rejoicing for the moment.


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20 Awkward Cats Who Fall Asleep in Crazy Ways

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Cats have mastered the art of sleeping, which is not surprising since they spend most of their day asleep. The thing that surprises us is the law of physics-defying positions they fall asleep in. They often leave us amazed or even a little freaked out, but they’re comfortable so we shouldn’t complain. They make for some of the funniest pictures after all!

Bright Side wants to show you 20 pictures of some furry knots that truly amazed us. Also, we have a little puzzle for you in the last picture!

20. When you don’t have a blanket, so you need to cover yourself with your own legs

19. In the newest cat bed, you can roll around while sleeping.

18. Pocket kitten taking a little nap

17. Who needs cat beds anyway?

16. When you’re so tired that you can’t even make it to bed:

15. As if we needed more proof that cats defy the laws of physics…

14. Not sure if the cat is dreaming of sunbathing or flying.

13. This cat read about a sleeping position called “the snail”.

12. Someone had an exhausting day at work.

11. A cat’s mission is to find every spot suitable for sleeping.

10. We can tell that this cat is very comfortable.

9. A fur spiral

8. Another cat that doesn’t need a blanket to cover itself!

7. Enjoying the sunshine

6. When your nap is so good, you start melting:

5. Always be camouflaged, even when you’re sleeping.

4. When you don’t exactly fit, but it doesn’t stop you from taking a nap:

3. We think this cat is dreaming of flying like Superman.

2. Bones are overrated anyway.

1. Here’s your puzzle! How long did it take you to find its head?

Cats are adorable when they sleep and they never fail to amaze us with their quirkiness! Have your cats fallen asleep in strange positions? We need to see them! So please, make our day and everyone else’s by showing us!

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Bernie Sanders’s reparations comments could hurt DSA 2020 endorsement

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Sen. Bernie Sanders’s refusal to give a full-throated endorsement of reparations is throwing a wrench into his long-expected endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America.

The DSA’s AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus, a section within the organization focused on race and people of color, is asking the DSA’s national political committee to withhold its endorsement of Sanders’s presidential campaign over his stance on reparations. The independent Vermont senator has declined to back reparations for the descendants of slaves in the United States, arguing that broader anti-poverty programs will help address inequality and that it’s not clear what the term means.

DSA’s members already voted 76 percent to 24 percent to endorse Sanders in a poll conducted by the organization’s leadership earlier this month. The 16-member national political committee is set to vote on the endorsement on Thursday evening. The AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus is pushing for them to withhold that endorsement.

The caucus laid out its reasoning in an open letter to the political committee and explained that while they believe Sanders has advanced in his stance on race, “there is still a disconnect in his approach to economic issues often failing to comprehend how race and class are intertwined.”

“Should the organization move forward with an endorsement of the Sanders campaign, despite his failure to adopt specific policy stances to address matters of persisting racial injustice and despite his unwillingness to champion reparations to specifically address the experience of the descendants of African slaves, it will risk alienating not just members of color within the organization, but people of color in the communities in which the DSA works,” the letter reads. “We ask that the DSA withholds endorsement of the Bernie Sanders campaign for the presidency until Sanders finally acknowledges the validity of black demands for reparations in America.”

Democratic Socialists of America, which claims to be the largest socialist organization in the US and has gained significantly in prominence in recent years. (Jeff Stein laid out for Vox in 2017 what DSA is all about.) It has more than 50,000 members nationwide.

The letter has caused some internal consternation within DSA, which has been criticized for being a heavily white and male organization.

“There is a lot of really frustrated white comrades right now and comrades of color, to be quite honest, about how this is a stupid strategy, and what’s going on, but I think their hearts are in the right place,” Bianca Cunningham, co-chair of New York City’s DSA chapter, told me. “Sometimes, having these discussions is uncomfortable, and it means you even have to challenge comrades who you see as allies.”

What Sanders has said about reparations

Reparations has become a topic of conversation in the 2020 Democratic primary, and multiple candidates — including Sanders — have been asked to weigh in.

It’s worth noting that reparations polls poorly among the general public, but is more popular with younger voters and voters of color — prime parts of the Democratic base. It has thus gained credence among those on the left as the Democratic Party becomes more aware of and responsive to issues like the racial wealth gap. Black voters make up about 25 percent of Democratic primary voters, a constituency Sanders struggled with somewhat in 2016 but one with which he has been gaining support more recently.

At a CNN town hall event with journalist Wolf Blitzer in February, Sanders was asked about reparations. He said that there are “massive disparities that must be addressed” but did not come out in favor of reparations. Sanders pointed to legislation he likes, including Rep. Jim Clyburn’s (D-SC) 10/20/30 anti-poverty program, which he has endorsed. It calls for more federal resources to be sent to communities with high, sustained levels of poverty.

Sanders said we have to do “everything that we can do end institutional racism in this country” and “put resources into distressed communities and improve lives for those people who have been hurt from the legacy of slavery.” But he wouldn’t come out in favor of reparations, and he said it’s not clear what the term even means.

“But what does they mean? What do they mean?” he said. “I’m not sure that anyone’s very clear. What I’ve just said is that I think we must do everything that we can to address the massive level of disparity that exists in this country.”

The DSA caucus calling for the organization to withhold its endorsement cited Sanders’s comments at the CNN town hall. They said he appeared “defensive” and “the dismissive nature of the response effectively shut down the opportunity for meaningful conversation on this issue.”

Sanders was also asked about reparations in a subsequent appearance on the talk show The View and again declined to back them. “I think that right now, our job is to address the crises facing the American people and our communities, and I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check,” he said.

That Sanders is not supportive of reparations is not a surprise — he did not support them in 2016 either, claiming they were “divisive” and nearly impossible to get through Congress. (President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not support reparations, either.) More broadly, Sanders has struggled with his messaging on race. In 2015, Black Lives Matter activists disrupted one of his speeches.

A Sanders spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the DSA’s reparations debate.

Reparations have become an important issue in the 2020 primary

The issue of reparations has become a notable topic of conversation among 2020 Democrats.

Vox’s P.R. Lockhart recently delved into the debate and what candidates have said about it. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), for example, have expressed some level of support for reparations, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is running on a proposed “baby bonds” program that would help close the racial wealth gap.

But as Lockhart notes, the issue — and the discussion around it — isn’t clear-cut:

Some candidates have also noted that reparations — the process of apologizing and providing restitution to those harmed by slavery and its legacy — would serve as payment for a debt America has yet to truly acknowledge 150 years after emancipation.

But they’ve stopped short of actually calling for reparations programs. Instead, experts say that some candidates have muddied the waters by framing universal programs that would help black communities as a form of reparations — which they aren’t.

The discussion has touched on a longstanding debate about what the United States owes to the descendants of enslaved men and women — a population that has been systematically denied wealth and opportunity in a country built with the stolen labor of their ancestors.

Sanders’s approach to racial issues has historically been centered on economic inequality and the idea that communities of color would benefit most from his proposals such as Medicare-for-all and free education. Nelini Stamp, who heads strategy and partnerships for the Working Families Party and supports reparations, in a recent interview told me that’s not enough.

“Similar to having capitalism be a bad word, we need reparations to be a good word,” she said.

Stamp added that people who back Sanders should pressure him on the issue as well. “There should be actual outrage from Bernie’s strongest supporters about his reparations comments,” she said.

Sanders will probably still get the DSA’s endorsement

It’s not clear what, if any, effect the DSA AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus’s letter will have on the organization’s decision on backing Sanders. Its membership appears to overwhelmingly support the move, though there has been some debate about whether it’s the right move.

The national political committee is set to debate and vote on the endorsement on Thursday at 9 pm.

Beyond this vote, the discussion about reparations and, more broadly, race, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, in the context of the Sanders campaign or among democratic socialists more broadly.

“I don’t think the problem is that they’re pushing for this, I think the problem is the way that people receive it,” Cunningham, from New York’s DSA, said of the AfroSocialist and Socialists of Color Caucus’s letter. “And so, we hear some people saying, ‘This is going to tear apart the organization.’ Well, it doesn’t have to. You can receive this in good faith and really engage in this in a good faith way.”


The news moves fast. Catch up at the end of the day: Subscribe to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast, or sign up for our evening email newsletter, Vox Sentences.

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#MBCTrending – بمناسبة افتتاح الاولمبياد في أبو ظبي.. نجوم العرب والعالم بأوبريت غنائي

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بمناسبة افتتاح الاولمبياد في أبو ظبي.. نجوم العرب والعالم بأوبريت غنائي
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؟ لأن الازدحام ليس فقط في الشوارع، إنما في كل ما تتلقاه في “السوشيال ميديا” عبر هاتفك الذي لا يفارق يدك . زحام في المعلومات، الصور، الفيديوهات، الملابس، المطاعم، الأفكار، السيارات والمشاهير الذين لا تنتهي يومياتهم بكل ما هو مثير.
نحن نختصر كل ذلك في برنامج واحد يقوم بتلخيص كل ما هو جديد، وإيصاله إليك بدون ازدحام . ابق أمام شاشة MBC4 وانتظر الساخن في تمام الساعة 8 مساء بتوقيت السعودية .

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