Politics & Law

ProVeg and Cellular Agriculture Europe Respond to Italy’s War on Cultivated Meat

Two European organisations involved in food system awareness, ProVeg International and Cellular Agriculture Europe, have responded to Italy’s war on cultivated meat to protect the country’s food tradition.

“Italy could be missing out on an opportunity to diversify its food supply and expand consumer choice”

An approved bill that still needs to be passed by the parliament states that “lab food” in general, but particularly cultivated meat, is not guaranteed safe. Reportedly, the proposed text does not address the EU’s ability to approve a novel food such as cultivated meat. It has neither considered its environmental or economic implications nor contemplated the consumer’s right to choose.

ProVeg and Cellular Agriculture Europe addressed the key issues omitted by the proposed measure in the name of heritage and tradition:

Europa-Flagge im Wind
© Henner Damke – stock.adobe.com

Is cultivated meat safe?

Cellular Agriculture Europe responded:

“To enter the European Union (EU) market, food products must be authorised by the European Commission, after a thorough safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). 

” […] once approved by the European Commission, cultivated products are safe” 

“Worldwide, this approval is considered to be a gold standard in food safety. Hence, the Italian proposal is unnecessary as Italian and European consumers can be sure that, once approved by the European Commission, cultivated products are safe. 

“And as cultivated meat is being assessed by international risk assessment bodies in the EU, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Singapore Food Agency have given greenlights on the safety of cultivated product applications.”

environmentally friendly, tree, save the planet
©By freshidea st ock.adobe.com

Environmental impact

Mathilde Alexandre, ProVeg Cell-Ag project coordinator, responded: 

“The bill introduced by the Italian Government to ban cultivated meat is a draconian measure that ignores the massive economic and environmental potential that cultivated meat holds.

“Cultivated meat is an important new technology that can positively affect the food system in reducing carbon emissions, [and] pollution, and supports animal welfare and biodiversity, while being a real lever for economic growth.

“The IPCC report listed cellular agriculture as a way to limit pressures on finite natural resources”

“Compared to conventional meat, cultivated meat shows many promises in terms of sustainability. The latest life-cycle assessment shows that cultivated beef could result in a reduction of 92% of carbon footprint if renewable energy is used in the production process, 95% of land use and 78% of water requirements, compared to conventional beef production. 

“In 2022, the IPCC report listed cellular agriculture as a way to limit pressures on finite natural resources. Given the urgency of the situation, it is imperative that we explore all promising options to make our food system more sustainable and transition to a low-carbon economy and society.”

mother with daughter in supermarket
Image courtesy ProVeg International

Consumers’ right to choose?

Cellular Agriculture Europe responded:

“Finally, such a ban will reduce consumers’ ability to choose the food they want. Thanks to cultivated meat, dairy and seafood companies there will be new products on the market, allowing consumers who are concerned about animal welfare and the environmental impact of their food, to choose the product they wish. 

“This proposed ban contains misinformation”

“This proposed ban contains misinformation and may only stymie efforts to make our agri-food systems more sustainable and deny Italian consumers complementary protein choices. Not only is that bad public policy, it is likely unconstitutional. 

“The better path forward is to work with our companies and to support research on how these innovations can integrate.”

cellular agriculture europe food banner
© Cellular Agriculture Europe

Economic potential

Mathilde Alexandre, ProVeg Cell-Ag project coordinator, responded: 

Cultivated meat is a nascent industry that also has the potential to become a major economic driver, creating new jobs and business opportunities. 

“A study by Oxford Economics showed that in the UK for instance, the cultivated meat sector could add over £2 billion to the economy and create 16,500 jobs by 2030. By banning it, Italy could be limiting its own potential for scientific and economic advancement, while other European countries continue to invest in this promising field. 

“Moreover, Italy could be missing out on an opportunity to diversify its food supply and expand consumer choice.”

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