One of the European nations best known for its cuisine has rejected a “novel” addition to its tables: so-called “cultivated” or “lab-grown” foods, including meat.
“Italy is the world’s first country safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food,” Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida told the BBC last week.
“In defense of health, of the Italian production system, of thousands of jobs, of our culture and tradition, with the law approved today, Italy is the first nation in the world to be safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food,” he said in a Facebook post on November 16, as translated by the New York Post.
“The country’s Chamber of Deputies approved the bill 159 for to 53 against, confirming an earlier passage of the bill in the Italian Senate,” the Washington Examiner reported Saturday.
Violating the law could result in fines of up to 60,000 euros, or approximately $65,500 at current exchange rates. (Other outlets, it should be noted, listed higher possible fines.)
The new law bans the “use, sale, import and export of lab-grown food,” according to the Examiner, but could be headed for conflict with the European Union, which has yet to act on what it calls “novel foods.”
If the EU ultimately approves lab-grown meat, the European Commission could challenge Italy’s new law.
“In Europe, we do not have such products yet on the market… because they are considered by regulators, the European Commission and member states as a novel food and that requires a safety assessment by Efsa, authorisation by member states and the European Commission,” Wolfgang Gelbmann of the European Food Safety Authority said in September, according to the BBC.
Critics of the new law noted that “cultivated meat” is grown from natural cells grown without any sort of genetic manipulation — there is nothing “synthetic” about so-called “synthetic meat,” they say.
Italy’s agricultural sector processes over $10 billion worth of meat annually, however, and some of the law’s supporters said they were interested in protecting those workers, the Post reported.
The president of Coldiretti, Italy’s biggest farmers association, said that approving lab-grown meat would benefit large multinational corporations at the expense of local producers.
“We are proud to be the first country that, despite being in favor of research, prevents, as a precautionary measure, the sale of laboratory-produced food whose effects it could have on the health of citizens consumers are currently unknown,” he wrote on Facebook.
The bill also bans the use of meat-related language to sell plant-based alternatives like “tofu steak.”
On the United States and Singapore have approved cultivated meat for consumption, according to the Post.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.