In a groundbreaking move, Italy has become the first nation to ban lab-grown meat, effectively shielding its farmers and culinary heritage from the potential impact of synthetic food. This decisive action, backed by the Italian government, aims to safeguard the country’s $10.1 billion meat-processing industry and preserve its cherished culinary traditions, the BBC reported.
Francesco Lollobrigida, Italy’s agriculture minister, expressed unwavering support for the ban, emphasizing its role in protecting “health, the Italian production system, thousands of jobs, and our culture and tradition.” He further declared that Italy has “taken the first step in the world to protect itself from the social and economic risks of synthetic food,” as stated on Facebook.
The bill’s passage in the Italian senate secured 159 votes in favor, while 53 opposed it. The issue ignited passionate debates within parliament, even leading to a heated confrontation between farmers and some parliamentarians. One farmers’ union leader, adamant in his stance, denounced the opposing MPs as “criminals.”
Currently, only the United States and Singapore have approved cultivated meat for consumption, a market projected to reach $1.99 billion by 2035. While the European Union has yet to sanction lab-grown meat, Italy’s ban could face legal challenges from the European Commission.
Coldiretti, Italy’s largest farmers’ association, voiced concerns on Facebook about the potential negative consequences of lab-grown meat, citing its potential threat to local producers and its unknown health implications. Ettore Prandini, Coldiretti’s president, expressed pride in Italy’s proactive stance, stating, “We are the first country that, despite supporting research, is taking precautionary measures to prevent the sale of laboratory-produced food, whose effects on consumer health are still unknown.“
Italian factories that defy the ban risk hefty fines exceeding $160,000, according to Forbes. This strict measure underscores Italy’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding its agricultural sector and culinary traditions.