Italy is moving to ban lab-grown meat. If the proposal is passed by parliament, Italian industry will not be allowed to produce food or feed "from cell cultures or tissues derived from vertebrate animals"
Italy's government has approved a bill banning the production and use of lab-grown food and feed.
The aim is to protect the country's agri-food heritage, according to the country’s agriculture minister.
If the proposal is passed by parliament, Italian industry will not be allowed to produce food or feed "from cell cultures or tissues derived from vertebrate animals", the bill said.
"Laboratory products in our opinion do not guarantee quality, well-being and the protection of our culture, our tradition," said Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, a senior member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy party.
Meloni's nationalist administration has vowed to shield the Italian food industry from technological innovations deemed harmful, and renamed the agriculture ministry the "ministry for agriculture and food sovereignty".
The bill stipulates that anyone who violates the new law can be fined up to €60,000 euros, losing the right to public funding for up to three years. Factories where violations occur can be shut down.
"An anti-scientific crusade against progress"
The proposed bill comes after a series of government decrees banning the use of flour derived from insects such as crickets and locusts in pizza or pasta. The Italian government wants information labels to be put on products containing or made from insects.
"People need to be able to make an informed choice," Meloni wrote on Twitter.
Her comments seem to be in tune with the majority of Italians. According to a survey, 84 percent are against laboratory-grown food, writes the Italian food magazine Italia a Tavola.
Still, the initiative to ban lab-grown foods has angered organisations supporting the development of "cell-based" agricultural products across Europe, as well as animal rights groups.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has previously stated that cell-based agriculture such as cultured meat "could be considered as a promising and innovative solution for healthy and environmentally friendly food systems".
"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," said Alice Ravenscroft, head of policy at the Good Food Institute Europe.
As for the Anti-vivisection group LAV, it echoed the statements made by the International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA), who previously stressed that lab-produced meat, while it came from animal cells, was an "ethical alternative" that did not harm animal welfare, environmental sustainability or food safety.
LAV called the proposed bill "an ideological, anti-scientific crusade against progress". It said lab-meat, which is produced from the cells of living animals, represented a good alternative to intensive breeding and slaughtering.