Italy to ban lab-grown food to protect cultural heritage and tradition

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Italian industry will be banned from producing laboratory-grown food and animal feed in a draft law approved by the Italian government on Tuesday.

The conservative administration has vowed to resist the changing climate in food production in an attempt to protect the health of Italians, the country’s food and agricultural sectors, and Italy’s cultural heritage.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the new law would result in a total ban on any food produced “from cell cultures or tissues derived from vertebrate animals,” with violations being subject to fines of up to €60,000.

“Laboratory products in our opinion do not guarantee quality, well-being and the protection of our culture, our traditions,” said Francesco Lollobrigida, a senior government minister in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s administration and a Brothers of Italy colleague.

“We could not but celebrate with our farmers a measure that places Italy at the forefront, not only on the issue of defending excellence, a matter that is particularly important to us, but also on the issue of consumer protection,” Meloni said on Tuesday.

“It’s the first of such measure at the international level. Italy is the first country that says no to the so-called synthetic food and synthetic meat, and it does so with a formal act,” said Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida. “We believe this is an important result.”

“The law consists of six articles. It provides for a ban on the sale, commercialization, production, and import (of these products), and obviously for the sanctions that are quite harsh for whoever violates these norms,” Lollobrigida added, insisting this is not about persecution “but the strong will to protect the health of citizens.”

Health Minister Orazio Schillaci also identified the draft law as the government reaffirming its commitment to offering “the maximum level of protection of citizens’ health and the safeguarding of our nation’s heritage and our agri-food culture which is based on the Mediterranean diet.”

Meloni’s administration has acted swiftly in this sector to address several evolving and controversial policies being implemented at an EU level. Earlier this month, the government banned insect flour from pasta production, and last week her government announced its intention to issue decrees to require products that contain or are derived from insects to have information labels stating as much for consumers.

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