ITALY Italy has officially approved the ban on the production, sale, and import of cultivated meat following the approval of a bill by Italy’s Chamber of Deputies on November 16.

The legislation, first proposed in March, has for a while sparked controversy and has now undergone final scrutiny by the European Union for approval.

Francesco Lollobrigida, the Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, and Forestry, expressed his support for the ban on synthetic food in a Facebook post, declaring it a “brave measure” that puts Italy at the forefront of the world.

According to the European division of the Good Food Institute (GFI), the bill also restricts the use of meat-related terms for products not derived from animals, imposing fines of up to €60,000 (US$65,226) for violations.

Francesca Gallelli, the public affairs consultant at GFI Europe, criticized the legislation, stating that eliminating familiar terms hinders transparency and generates confusion for consumers.

She argued that the bill not only limits consumer choice but also isolates Italy from the potential investment and job creation offered by the burgeoning cultivated meat industry.

Gallelli highlighted that the debate in Italy surrounding cultivated meat had been fueled by misinformation, with hearings in the Senate excluding representatives from cultivated meat companies while allowing false claims from opponents of sustainable food.

The bill encountered delays in October when the Italian government withdrew from the EU scrutiny process, which aimed to ban cultivated meat products and the use of cell-cultured proteins in animal feed.

Minister Lollobrigida, in an interview transcript posted on his department’s website, emphasized the need to protect Italy’s food system and traditions.

He argued that synthetic food, grown far from their culinary traditions, does not guarantee the principles of quality and food safety that Italy represents.

Lollobrigida expressed optimism that the EU would reject the production, import, and marketing of cultivated meat, asserting that it has not been adequately tested.

On the Ministry of Agriculture’s website, Lollobrigida claimed that a petition against permitting the supply of cultivated meat in Italy and its subsequent ban had received over two million signatures from institutional representatives, municipalities, and regions across the political spectrum.

In response, Gallelli at GFI welcomed the government’s intention to submit the law for EU scrutiny but expressed hope that member states could voice concerns about its potential violation of the single market.

“We hope that the Italian example will be followed at a European level, with the same model with which it was chosen to avoid GMOs on the continent,” he noted.

“We welcome the intention of the government to submit the law to the EU scrutiny and we hope member states can voice their concerns regarding its potential violation of the single market.”