A few days ago, the Italian Parliament approved a law prohibiting the production and sale of synthetic foods, such as cultured meat, making Italy the first European country to introduce this measure. The norm, promoted by the Government of the far-right Giorgia Meloni, argues the inequalities that these foods could cause at a nutritional level and the lack of scientific studies, although the argument causes great controversy among the opposition, which highlights the lack of scientific conclusions that justify its absolute prohibition.

Synthetic food is food that is manufactured in a laboratory. In the case of meat, for example, the stem cells are chosen, they are fed to grow and between three and six months later they can be harvested. Likewise, those against the law point out that it may contravene the principle of free movement of goods in the European Union if the marketing of synthetic foods manufactured in other countries is also prohibited. The law provides that the marketing of this type of food will be fined between 10,000 and 60,000 euros, or 10% of the business volume in the case of income greater than 60,000 euros.

The debate on the law in the Chamber of Deputies, which has been postponed due to doubts about its fit into European legislation, was accompanied by clashes outside Parliament between supporters of the norm convened by Coldiretti, the largest association of ranchers and farmers in the country, and opponents.

“Protect health”

“We want to protect public health and avoid unemployment. There is a risk of social injustice with synthetic foods, with a society in which the rich eat well and the poor do not,” justified the Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, to the pass the bill last March. According to Lollobrigida, the intention of the Italian Executive It is not “persecution”, but rather tries to protect “health” and the “environment”.

For his part, the Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, has argued that the decision has been taken as a way of “safeguard“The country’s heritage and agri-food culture, “based on the Mediterranean diet.” “The law against synthetic foods is significant: it is based on the precautionary principle because there are currently no scientific studies on their effects. We guarantee the highest level of protection of the health of citizens and the safeguarding of our nation’s heritage,” said Schillaci.

The Meloni Government has already signed four decrees to offer more information to consumers about foods that “are not found in the traditional diet” and that, among other measures, forces supermarkets to separate flours made with insects from the rest of the products. products.

Arguments for and against

Among the most prominent names who support synthetic food, we find billionaire Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft; the president of Amazon, Jeff Bezos; or former Vice President of the United States Albert Arnold Gore Jr., known as Al Gore. The three have invested large amounts of money in Natur nature’s Fynd, a company that produces meat and dairy from a fungus.

According to Gates, one of its top representatives, the Synthetic meat is one of the keys to saving the environment. Since only 1% of land and 10% of water are needed compared to traditional farming. In addition, there would be less animal abuse and diseases such as swine fever or bird flu could be avoided.