The law provides for appropriate fines for violators, from 10 thousand to 60 million euros
Italy has banned the production, export and import of synthetic food - the corresponding law was passed by the country's parliament. The Minister of Agriculture shared on social media that the move was made to “protect health, culture and traditions.” Italy became the first EU country to introduce such a ban.
According to Italy's Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Francesco Lollobrigida, this is a landmark step to protect Italian culture and its agricultural sector.
“We are the first country to ban it, to the chagrin of multinational companies who hoped to make monstrous profits by jeopardizing jobs and the health of citizens,” Minister Lollobrigida said on his social network.
The bill was passed in the Italian Senate with only 53 votes against. The legislation provides for appropriate fines for violators, from 10 thousand to 60 million euros, or up to 10% of annual turnover, up to 150 thousand euros.
Agricultural activists also supported the ban. Coldirett's largest farmers' association was concerned that allowing the production of synthetic meat in laboratories would herald the rise of multinational companies at the expense of local Italian producers.
“We are proud to be the first country that, despite supporting scientific research, blocks the sale of laboratory-produced food products whose impact on the health of citizens is currently unknown,” comments Coldirett President Ettore Prandini.
According to a Notosondaggi survey, 3 out of 4 Italians answered that they do not eat synthetic food. This study was made on the occasion of a demonstration by farmers and ranchers in Rome on the day of the Senate's final vote on the bill.
In a conversation with Politico, Minister Lollobrigida noted that “if you produce food that has nothing to do with people, land, work, you can move production instead with lower taxes and lower environmental standards, which will harm jobs and the environment "
The Times reports that the move does not contravene European law, given that no product was sent to the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) for approval. But the Italian measure still leaves room for questions about the "single market" of other EU member states. Minister Lollobrigida believes that the EU "is committed to the principle that the identity of peoples must be preserved."
Despite the support it received, the law attracted criticism, especially in terms of infringement of freedom of enterprise and potential conflicts with European regulations. Europa Verde national co-representative Eleonora Evi expressed doubts about possible violations of European standards and obstacles associated with research and development in the sector.
“This bill tells Italians what they can and cannot eat. It is truly disheartening that Italy will be excluded from a new job-creating industry and denied the opportunity to sell more sustainable food products,” says the Good Food Institute Europe.
The founder of the Center for Stem Cell Research at the State University of Milan, Elena Cattaneo, spoke out sharply against the bill, pointing out that Italy imports up to 50 percent of the meat the country needs.
“Couldn’t our scientists develop nationally produced cultured meat designed specifically to reduce the need for imports?” - Cattaneo admitted to the newspaper la Repubblica.
She also drew attention to the fact that the bans only apply to the use of cell cultures and tissues obtained from vertebrate animals. This could mean that manufacturers could make synthetic meat from crustaceans, mollusks and cephalopods.