Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida presented a bill seeking to ban the production and sale of synthetic food in Italy to the cabinet today. It would ban the sale, production for exportation, and importation of food for human consumption or animal feed stemming from the cultivation of cells or tissue.
The aim of the bill is to keep food as ‘natural’ as possible. Breaching the law would be punishable by fines of between €10,000 and €60,000, and the confiscation of the goods.
Among other things, synthetic food is seen to have big potential as a way to make products that look and taste like meat but do not involve killing animals.
Ettore Prandini, the president of farmers’ association Coldiretti, backed the bill.
“After meat, experimentation has been extended to fish and to milk, endangering the natural nature of the foods that are the biggest part of our diet”, said Prandini. Coldiretti launched a petition calling for the ban of synthetic foods that got over half a million signatures.
“The lies about test-tube food confirm there is a precise strategy by the multinationals, which, with skilful marketing operations, are trying to change natural dietary habits based on quality and tradition.
“The truth is that it is not meat. It is a synthetic, engineered product that does not save the environment, because it consumes more water than traditional livestock farms. It does not help heath, because there is no guarantee that the chemicals used are safe for food consumption. Furthermore, it is not accessible to all, because it is in the hands of the multinationals”.
Other parties blast the proposed bill
Giordano Masini of the More Europe party, however, blasted the bill. “A new day, a new enemy, a new crime,” said Masini.
“Instead of welcoming a potential new development opportunity, which could bring new businesses and more jobs, the government rushes to ban it, imagining health risks that no one has ever shown.
“The outcome is that, in the end, foods obtained via cell culture will arrive anyway, being as it is the EFSA that evaluates the health risks of food products (in Europe) not the Italian government, and the European Union will allow them onto the single market.
“Producers in other countries who, in the meantime, can do research and development will be the ones to benefit”.
The bill coincides with the government’s bid to make Italian food a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.