Italy proposes ban on cultivated meat


Italy proposes ban on cultivated meat

31 March 2023
Animal Equality
The bill against cultivated meat approved on Tuesday by the Italian government at the request of Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida aims to hinder the spread of healthier, safer and more sustainable food choices.

This proposal is based on false ideological and alarmist, scientifically inaccurate claims, which hide behind consumer protection, but which aim to protect the highly intensive animal farming sector. The government has fully accepted the demands of Coldiretti, the farmers' trade association, which has been conducting a campaign for months to demonise cultivated meat in order to safeguard the interests of its members. This campaign has disseminated exaggerated and erroneous claims (for example, cultivated meat has been described as "Frankenstein food") to consumers, who are entitled to receive full and correct information in order to make informed choices.

The result of such a ban will only be to slow down Italian research and competitiveness in this new sector, leaving the country behind in markets of enormous global importance in the future and which will offer opportunities for economic growth and employment.

Protecting one sector by hindering or prohibiting the development of another represents a serious limitation of citizens' freedom of choice. Moreover, if a strong global growth of cultivated meat is expected, the current government position is certainly not far-sighted for Italy. Today, science and business offer us a more sustainable alternative to intensive agriculture, but the government seems to want to remain anchored in a system that tastes like the past, inefficient and environmentally unsustainable."
Animal Equality Italia, Animal Law Italia, Essere Animali, LAV and LNDC Animal Protection.

According to a survey commissioned by the Good Food Institute Europe, Italians are among the most receptive citizens in Europe, with 55% of respondents interested in tasting, a percentage that reaches 72% in the youngest segment of the population. The main reason for this choice is precisely the interest in reducing the environmental impact of food. Indeed, cultivated meat offers the possibility of consuming a food similar to the meat currently on the market, produced in a more sustainable and less polluting process than the current intensive farming. Above all, it would save the lives of millions of animals. A study also published on the European Commission's website points out that if all meat produced in the EU were replaced by cultivated meat, greenhouse gas emissions and land and water consumption would decrease by 98.8%, 99.7% and 94% respectively.

Art. 2 of the bill refers to the precautionary principle of EU Regulation 178/2002, which, in order to safeguard human health, allows for 'provisional risk management measures' - such as stopping marketing - in case of genuine scientific uncertainty about the possibility of harmful effects arising from the use of certain products. However, the current scientific literature leaves no doubt that cultivated meat is safe for consumers, as it is based on the well-known and long-established mechanism of cell replication. Furthermore, it can only be placed on the market after authorisation by the European authorities, which requires a careful assessment of any potential risks.

From a health point of view, cultivated has considerable advantages, as it would allow the use of few or no antibiotics, despite the distorted information we hear these days. This would be important not only for the health of the consumer, but more importantly to reduce the serious problem of antibiotic resistance. In addition, the sterile environment in which it is produced reduces the possibility of exposure to pathogens, which is unavoidable today with meat from animal breeding and slaughter.

Cultivated meat will not arrive on our tables overnight and citizens will not run any risk, as it has to go through strict validation processes. For the time being, it is already marketed in Singapore and will soon enter the US market, where the Food and Drug Administration recently gave its positive opinion.

In Europe, on the other hand, the scientific opinion is being examined by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), based in Parma, and a decision will be taken later in the EU, which has decided to support the sector with a €25 million grant under the Horizon Europe initiative

The scientific opinions given so far have all been positive and we are convinced that those of EFSA will also be positive, so that, in all likelihood, these products will still be able to enter the Italian market, which will then be dominated only by foreign companies, developed in more forward-looking countries that today not only do not hinder cultivated meat, but support its research and development."

Animal Equality Italia, Animal Law Italia, Essere Animali, LAV and LNDC Animal Protection.

Cultivated meat: An important piece in the puzzle of a sustainable food system

Browse to this publication

Cultivated meat FAQs: a guide for further discussion

Browse to this publication