Senior figures in the Italian Government are backing a bill that would ban laboratory-grown meat products and other synthetic foods, claiming that action is needed to protect Italian food heritage.
If proposals contained in the bill are approved, breaking the ban could lead to fines of up to €60,000.
Italian farming union Coldiretti has spearheaded a movement calling for protection of ‘natural food versus synthetic food’ and in recent months has gathered over half a million signatures in support of legislative action. The petition has been signed by Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Francesco Lollobrigida, a prominent member of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, and currently Minister for Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, spoke of the importance of Italy’s food tradition. Coldiretti meanwhile said that a ban on ‘synthetic’ foods would shield traditional food producers from “the attacks of multinationals”.
“The lies about test-tube food confirm that there is a precise strategy of multinationals, using skillful marketing operations, of changing natural eating styles based on quality and tradition
Coldiretti’s president, Ettore Prandini, has previously claimed: “The lies about test-tube food confirm that there is a precise strategy of multinationals, using skillful marketing operations, of changing natural eating styles based on quality and tradition. The truth is that it is not meat but a synthetic and engineered product, which does not save the environment because it consumes more water and energy than many traditional farms. It (also) does not help health because there is no guarantee that the chemicals used are safe for food consumption.”
But opposition parties in Italy, together with animal welfare groups and some environmental campaigners have criticised the development. They argue that Italy’s right-wing ruling Government has seized on the issue of food sovereignty as a way of wilfully blocking the opportunity to research and develop new foods that could result in lower carbon footprints, reduced pollution and animal welfare improvements.
What we’re seeing across the rest of Europe is that other governments are eager to unlock some of the benefits of cultivated meat and are therefore being supportive
Alice Ravenscroft, the head of policy at the Good Food Institute Europe, an NGO helping to build a more sustainable food system, told the BBC that Italy’s ban on lab-grown meat made it a “complete outlier”. She said: “What we’re seeing across the rest of Europe is that other governments are eager to unlock some of the benefits of cultivated meat and are therefore being supportive.”
Coldiretti poster showing its interpretation of ‘natural versus synthetic’ foods