Italy’s government approved a bill on Tuesday banning the production and use of lab-manufactured food and animal feed, as the nation attempts to preserve Italian food heritage and steer away from synthetic choices.
“A battle of civilizations. In defense of citizens’ health, of our production model, of our quality, of our culture, simply our food sovereignty,” said Italian minister of agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida in a tweet Wednesday, adding: “Italy is the first nation in the world to say no to synthetic foods.” There will be fines up to €60,000 ($65,144) for failure to comply. If the parliament passes the proposal, food produced from cell cultures or tissues derived from vertebrate animals will not be allowed in the country.
“Laboratory products in our opinion do not guarantee quality, well-being and the protection of our culture, our tradition,” said Lollobrigida, a member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing Brothers of Italy party, at a press conference on March 28.
Prime Minister Meloni had changed the name last year of the ministry of agriculture to the ministry of agriculture and food sovereignty, and Lollobrigida is an outspoken critic of the European Union’s food programs.
The agricultural lobby Coldiretti backed the latest move to ban synthetic foods and claimed that the bill was necessary to protect the local industry from multinational companies. Along with fines, the proposal seeks to shut down producers who violate the law and restrict them from obtaining public funding for up to three years.
Opposition From NGOs
The bill has received blowback from several supporters of cell-based agri-products as well as animal rights organizations.
“The passing of such a law would shut down the economic potential of this nascent field in Italy, holding back scientific progress and climate mitigation efforts, and limiting consumer choice,” said Alice Ravenscroft, head of policy at the Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe, an international nongovernmental organization promoting plant-based and cultivated meat.