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POLITICO reports:

The FDA on Thursday sent a clear message to the burgeoning cell-cultured meat industry and to the USDA amid an inter-governmental spat over jurisdiction: We're ready to handle this.

"This is not our first rodeo, so to speak, in this area," said Susan Mayne, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, which hosted a public meeting on the issue at its headquarters in College Park, Md.

The packed meeting in the Wiley Auditorium - a room named after famed chemist Harvey Washington Wiley, considered by many to be the father of the modern FDA - was a fascinating moment: A rare instance of a government agency gauging public input on a sector that some believe has tremendous potential to disrupt long-established meat industry standards and patterns.

But there are lotsa questions: The session covered many of the familiar talking points. Companies working on cell-cultured meat and seafood and their boosters argued that their "clean meat" products have the power to transform the food system and need a clear, trusted regulatory pathway to market. Meat interests raised concerns about labeling and argued for USDA - which has traditionally overseen livestock producers and related industries - to be allowed to direct the government's approach to the alternative products. But countless questions and concerns were also raised by consumer groups and scientists who specialize in meat, revealing how divided they are on the technology.

Consumer advocates skeptical: Groups like Food & Water Watch and Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, which are normally cheerleaders for efforts that promise to give consumers more sustainable food options, openly questioned the government's ability to regulate the new technology. Friends of the Earth, a group that has been sharply critical of the sector, was slated to testify, but ultimately didn't present a comment at the meeting.

Hill goes to bat for USDA: Republican and Democrat leaders from the House Agriculture Committee and the Appropriations Committee's agriculture panel wrote to the White House Office of Management and Budget this week also urging a more active USDA role in oversight.

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