June 22, 2024

Woman eats skewer of lab-grown meat

Testing lab-grown meat.
Photo: ALY SONG (Reuters)

Italian members of parliament voted to ban lab-grown meat in Italy—a first in Europe—leaving the cultivated meat approved for human consumption in only two countries: the US and Singapore.

The legislation, led by the right-wing government of prime minister Giorgia Meloni, would halt any production, sale, or import of cultivated meat or animal feed, with breaches incurring a fine of up to . The bill passed by a vote of 159-53. Breaches will incur a fine of up to €60,000 ($65,505).

The right has turned novel food into a new front in the culture wars.

“We are safeguarding our food, our system of nutrition, by maintaining the relationship between food, land, and human labor that we have enjoyed for millennia,” said Italy’s agriculture minister, Francesco Lollobrigida, on Italian TV.

“Italy is the world’s first country safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food,” he added.

It’s now up to the European Union

The move is not at odds with any European legislation, given there haven’t been products in the market, and no proposal has been sent as of yet to the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) for approval. But the measure in Italy still leaves room to be challenged by other EU member states based on the “single market” agreement allowing free movement of goods and services.

Lollobrigida isn’t worried, as he said he believes the EU “holds the principle that the identity of peoples must be preserved.”

Efsa said lab-grown meat will be “considered by regulators, the European Commission and member states as a novel food and that requires a safety assessment by Efsa, authorization by member states and the European Commission.”

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