Meat & Livestock News

European Union Divided as Italy Leads Ban on Lab-Grown Meat to Protect Traditional Farming


  • Italy has led Europe in banning lab-grown meat, citing ethical concerns, public health, sustainability, and transparency issues. This move aims to protect traditional farming methods and food culture.
  • The ban has sparked a debate among EU countries, with some opposing the move due to the potential need for alternative protein sources to meet future population growth. The European Parliament voted in favour of the ban, with penalties for violations.

Italy has become the first European country to officially ban the production, sale, or import of lab-grown meat, also known as cultivated meat. This decision, aimed at supporting Italian farmers, addresses concerns over ethics, public health, sustainability, and transparency.

Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida highlighted the importance of preserving Italy’s food heritage and the relationship between food, land, and human labour that has existed for millennia. The law reflects a commitment to protecting workers, agricultural entrepreneurs, and citizens’ right to quality food.

Currently, lab-grown meat is not sold in Europe, and any market introduction would require approval from the European Food Safety Authority. Italy’s national ban is under review by the EU for potential conflicts with European single market rules.

The ban has prompted discussions among European Agriculture Ministers, with some EU states supporting Italy’s stance, emphasising the threat to traditional farming methods and public health safety. A joint document by several EU countries backed Italy’s position, stressing the importance of preserving farm-based approaches and genuine food production methods central to the European farming model.

However, countries like The Netherlands and Denmark have expressed interest in exploring lab-grown meat as an alternative protein source to address future population growth challenges. The debate extends beyond government officials, with farm groups and lab meat supporters voicing their opinions, sometimes leading to confrontations.

The European Parliament’s vote to ban lab-grown meat was decisive, with a significant majority in favour. The ban positions Italy and potentially other European countries against the trend of lab-grown meat, which has been approved for human consumption in the U.S. and Singapore. This decision underscores a broader debate on food production ethics, sustainability, and the future of agriculture in Europe.