How Should Lab-Grown Human Milk Be Regulated?

Pediatricians, scientists, and industry players have long sought to create an infant formula that would be as close as possible to human milk by “humanizing” cow’s milk. But in the past years, game changing technologies have led a few start-up biotech companies to develop lab-grown human milk. The expression refers to different techniques, including culturing mammary cells or yeast, to secrete components of human milk. Their hope is to market a product that is more digestible and rich in beneficial bacteria for newborns. While none of these products are yet on the market, the question arises of how they should be regulated. Should they be regulated as food, infant formula, human tissue? Or, should a new special category be devised? In most jurisdictions, there is no legal definition or specific regulatory regime for human milk itself to use as an analogy or disanalogy. There is, however, a growing literature on the regulation of other lab-grown foods, in particular meat and dairy.