Italy threatens dispute with EU over lab meat ban

The Italian parliament has passed a ban on lab-grown meat, but the measure risks becoming a point of contention between Rome and Brussels. The approved law was submitted to the EU Commission for review on Friday. Rome is threatened with a dispute with Brussels on the grounds that a ban on the production, distribution and sale of cultured meat, which applies only to Italy, could violate EU rules on free competition.

The law, adopted by both houses of the Roman parliament in mid-November, bans the sale, production for export and import of food derived from cell culture. Violations should be punishable by a fine of between 10,000 and 60,000 euros and confiscation of goods. Synthetic foods appear to have great potential to produce products that look and taste like meat without the need to kill animals.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told a panel at the UN climate summit COP28 in Dubai on Friday that the research was “important” but that it was “not about producing food in a laboratory, but perhaps moving towards a world where the rich eat natural foods”. Food and the poor are given synthetic foods whose health effects we cannot predict. That’s not the world I want to see.” “The challenge is to guarantee healthy food for everyone,” says Meloni.

Lab meat refers to meat artificially produced in a laboratory that does not come directly from animals. The production of meat, called in vitro, takes place in the laboratory and is a complex process. For this, stem cells obtained from the muscle tissue of a living animal are needed. In the laboratory, cells are enriched in a container (bioreactor) in a liquid called nutrient solution, which consists of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients.

A substance called growth serum is also needed for the proliferation of cells. This is blood taken from calf fetuses (fetal calf serum). Once the serum is obtained, both the fetus and the mother die.

There is currently no approval in sight in the European Union. Laboratory meats fall within the scope of the EU Novel Foods Directive. Approval will require a positive safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and approval from the EU Commission and member states. However, with the Meat4All project, the EU allocated funds worth 1.9 million euros for research on laboratory meat.

(APA)

Source: Vienna

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