Italy Bans Lab-Grown Meat to “Protect Culture”

It's more of a political move than genuine concern about cultivated meat

Scientist checking meat at table in laboratory, closeup
They could face fines from the EU for the move.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

While the rest of the world remains genuinely curious and excited about lab-grown meat, there’s still one major holdout: Italy. According to Fortune, Italy’s government has moved to ban the production of cultivated meat to protect Italian agriculture and culture. The ban is pretty far-reaching: it covers the sale, production and even import of these products. “Italy is the world’s first country safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food,” said Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida (per BBC News).

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If you think there’s more to the story than social and economic protection, you’re absolutely correct. Essentially, this is about politics, and particularly about Italy’s far right-wing government (which is very culturally protective, anti-globalist and also hates raves). While the European Union (EU) itself hasn’t approved any synthetic meats so far, this move by Italy seems designed to appeal to the country’s large Coldiretti farmers’ organization. According to BBC, a fight nearly broke out in the Italian parliament between a few MPs who voted against the bill and the head of that farmers’ lobby, who confronted the representatives with placards that called them “anti-scientific and anti-Italian.”

The law might also be just for show, as some experts believe Italy could face fines from the E.U. As well, there appears to be growing support for alternative meats, as they could help combat climate change and help make food production more efficient. But Francesco Lollobrigida, Italy’s minister for food sovereignty and agriculture, sees it differently. “If you produce a food that has no relationship to man, land, work, you can move production to a place with lower taxes and less environmental standards, hurting jobs and the environment,” he told Politico.

At the moment, the use of cultivated meat has only been approved for human consumption in Singapore and the United States.


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