The government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Italy has enacted a prohibition on the production and sale of lab-grown meat. The Chamber of Deputies in Rome approved a corresponding bill on Thursday, which had previously been accepted by the Senate.
Italy now stands as the first country in Europe to introduce such a ban, as reported by the news agency Ansa. Politicians from the Italian government expressed satisfaction after the vote in the Chamber of Deputies. For instance, Lega politician Davide Bergamini argued, “Our aim is to protect our tradition, our products, and above all, the health of Italians.”
Lab-grown meat involves extracting stem cells from living animals, which are then cultivated in a nutrient solution containing fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and sugar. In this medium, the cells can multiply and develop into muscle tissue.
Advocates of lab-grown meat highlight that it eliminates the need to slaughter animals, a perspective supported by animal rights activists. However, several animal welfare organizations described Thursday’s decision as an “ideological ban.” The environmental aspect of this production method is also frequently emphasized.
In reality, lab-grown meat has never been on the market in Italy, leading critics to view the initiative as a symbolic debate. The opposition even questions the constitutionality of the law, suggesting potential conflicts with international law and European regulations, possibly leading to a confrontation with the EU Commission.
The agricultural association Coldiretti, on the other hand, welcomed significant parts of the new law. Particularly, the simultaneous ban on using everyday terms for plant-based alternative products, such as plant-based burgers or veggie sausages, was deemed appropriate.
Criticism, however, rained from the opposition, with doubts raised about the constitutionality of the law. There are concerns that it could violate international law and European regulations with a blanket prohibition, potentially leading to a conflict with the EU Commission.
According to the law, violations could result in fines of up to €60,000 and the confiscation of goods.