Opinion | Iowa freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson’s got beef

Ashley Hinson’s polemic against synthetic beef is nothing more than a plea for political relevance that ignores the environmental and ethical benefits of an emerging technology.

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Hannah Kinson

Republican candidate for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District Ashley Hinson greets an attendee before a Trump rally with Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids. Trump Jr. encouraged around 200 people who were in attendance to vote in the upcoming election and to support all of the Republican candidates on the ballot.

Jacob Wendell, Opinions Contributor


Rep. Ashley Hinson’s beef crusade is just another example of unjustified conservative outrage.

In recent tweets, she has lambasted Bill Gates and the “radical left” after Gates suggested that Americans should move to 100-percent synthetic beef.

Along with her petition, Hinson is marketing a $10 bumper sticker with what appears to be her new favorite phrase, “HANDS OFF OUR BEEF.”

The problem for Hinson, and what exposes this polemic as a purely political move, is no one’s hands are on Ashley’s, or anyone else’s beef.

No legislation that would subsidize synthetic meats or tax traditional beef production currently exists at the national or state level. The Green New Deal, a resolution described by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) as wanting to prohibit cheeseburgers and milkshakes, doesn’t mention cows once.

Most of these outrageous rumors stem from an FAQ factsheet on the resolution that stated, “ee set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”

The “farting cows” comment is clearly a quip meant to illustrate the impossibility of reaching zero emissions and not a promise to cull all cows as some conservatives espouse. Cows and airplanes are both sources of greenhouse gas emissions that will not disappear in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, it makes sense that they would be used in explaining the distinction between net-zero and zero emissions.

In addition to essentially campaigning against a nonexistent problem, Hinson does not explain her stance against synthetic meats. She just refers to it as “one of the craziest suggestions that Democrats have made.”

This statement is further muddled by the fact that Bill Gates’ official political affiliation is unknown —  his foundation has donated to both Democrats and Republicans in the past.

Even if Bill Gates is a Democrat, his statement is not representative of the entire party. Gates does not hold elected office and cannot introduce or vote on legislation. Blanket statements, such as this one, intend to paint opposition political groups as monolithic.

Hinson’s logic seems to say, “one rich guy who might be a Democrat likes this idea, therefore the entire party is behind it and they will destroy your life.”

Sensationalist views like this one should not be taken seriously because they only lead to more divided political factions — a problem that both sides of the aisle can recognize.

The most probable explanation for Hinson’s lack of reasoning is that a very compelling argument can be made for the production of synthetic meats, especially beef.

Beef production produces four to eight times more emissions per gram of protein than pork and poultry, each of which contributes more to climate change than plant-based proteins.

As consumers become more aware of the devastating effects of global climate change and plant-based “impossible meats” taste more like the real thing, there will be a shift away from conventional meat.

Hinson wants to frame this issue as liberal elites taking away your right to eat beef. But in reality, it’s the free market offering alternatives to consumers.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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