Accepted in the US, lab-grown meat dishes banned in Italy

Acting under the pretext of “saving the country’s agri-food heritage” , the Italian government passes a law banning lab-grown meat preparations.

Compared to conventional livestock farms, the “cultured” meat industry dramatically reduces water and feed consumption, promising to deliver all kinds of meat at a fraction of the cost of traditionally produced alternatives. Specifically, instead of animals raised in specially designed facilities, the desired product is produced in special vats by multiplying a culture of cells taken from live animals, mimicking conditions found in living organisms. Without feed and animals being reared and slaughtered, ‘cultured’ meat taken directly from the vat with essential nutrients requires fewer processing steps and can reach the market faster. At least in the US, the method seems to be popular with critics of intensive farms, long criticised for farming methods that ignore the stress and discomfort animals are under.

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Thus, the label “traditional product” could take on a whole new meaning in the not-too-distant future, with respect for a traditional recipe and methods including the use of “real” meat. The cheaper alternative, ‘cultured’ meat products could fill the shop shelves to saturation, driving conventional livestock farms out of business.

According to Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, “laboratory products do not guarantee our quality, welfare and protection. Culture, our tradition.” The bill will now go before parliament and, if passed, any future violations of the law could lead to fines of up to €60,000. However, the economically unsound measure could prove damaging in the long run if cultured meat dishes become accepted in other European countries.

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