Politics & Law

12 EU Agriculture Ministers Form Coalition Against Cultivated Meat

A coalition of a dozen EU agriculture ministers will push for a revision of the regulatory approval framework for the authorization of cultivated meat at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council today.

As reported by Euronews, Austria, France, and Italy proposed the initiative to The EU council, receiving support from the Czech, Cypriot, Greek, Hungarian, Luxembourg, Lithuanian, Maltese, Romanian, and Slovak delegations.

The coalition sent a statement to the EU executive urging them to evaluate and initiate a public debate regarding the impact of cultivated meat, as they see the technology as a potential threat to the economy, public health, and farmersThe group is also looking to establish label guidelines that prohibit the names of animal products in “fake” meat and milk products.

Despite Europe being a significant meat-consuming continent, the Italian government passed a bill to ban cultivated meat last November. Italy‘s Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida said that cultivated meat is potentially dangerous for human health, calling it a “slush” that would never taste like natural meat or fish.

Meanwhile, the Republican party of France recently introduced a bill to prohibit the production and marketing of cultivated meat in the country, calling it “junk food,” and in Austria, the Minister of Agriculture Norbert Totschnig has said that cultivated is not natural, calling for a debate for strict regulations.

Ivy Farm spaghetti dish
© Ivy Farm Technologies

Misleading arguments

According to Ivo Rzegott, Public Affairs Manager at the think tank the Good Food Institute Europe, the coalition’s arguments against cultivated meat come from a non-peer-reviewed study by UC Davis which suggests cultivated meat would not be better for the environment than beef.

This study, which a Changing Markets Foundation report finds is being used as part of a misinformation campaign, is based on incorrect assumptions about how cultivated meat is produced, and its findings deviate significantly from the existing literature,” argues the GFI.

The UC Davis report argues that the cultivated meat industry relies on the use of fetal bovine serum (FBS) and cannot guarantee the animal welfare standards that it promises. However, according to Rzegott, these assumptions on animal welfare are outdated because companies are removing FBS from the production process, ahead of a possible entry in the European market. 

“The initiative is not of a legislative nature. Nevertheless, it is problematic because it distorts the debate with arguments that do not stand up to critical scrutiny, “shared Rzegott on social media.

meatable's cultivated pork sausages
© Meatable

Cultivated meat for the EU

Before selling cell-based meat in EU member states, the products must undergo the EU’s novel food framework. This approval process entails a thorough and evidence-based assessment of the safety and nutritional value of any cultivated meat, with an estimated timeframe of at least 18 months. To our knowledge, the EU has not approved any cultivated meat product.

Meanwhile, submissions for European approval include the Israeli company Aleph Farms, which is seeking to launch an Angus-style steak in Switzerland and the UK. Also, the German biotech, The Cultivated B, entered the pre-submission phase for regulatory approval of a hybrid cultivated meat product. 

Just last week, the Israeli government gave Aleph Farms the green light to commercialize its cultivated steaks in the country, marking the world’s first approval for cultivated beef and the third country to approve cultivated meat products after Singapore and the USA.

On the other hand, other European countries, including The Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, are actively funding and promoting cell-based meat to diversify proteins and address the environmental impact of animal agriculture.

“The best way to address open research questions in the field of cultivated meat is not new regulatory hurdles, but public research funding. This would ensure that cultivated meat is produced sustainably and that decentralised forms of production are advanced, creating new opportunities for farmers and other established players,” Rzegott added.

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