Brussels, 16th November 2023: Today, the Italian Parliament adopted a law that bans the production and sale of cell-cultured products on the domestic market, in total breach of EU law. Cellular Agriculture Europe deplores this political move which has no legal merit and goes against Italian consumers’ free choice.
Contrary to what was said in the discussions surrounding this legislative proposal, the European Union does have an appropriate regulatory system in place for the safety assessment and approval of cell-cultured products with the Novel Foods Regulation. To enter the European Union (EU) market, novel food products like cultivated meat must be authorised by the European Commission and the member states, after a thorough safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). There is no legal reason for Italy to pre-empt this risk assessment and risk management process.
The EU law also provides that technical regulations like this law must be notified to the European Commission before their actual adoption, allowing other member states and stakeholders to provide comments on potential barriers to the EU internal market. The Italian authorities’ withdrawal of their notification and today’s vote blatantly contravene the EU law.
What is even sadder is that such a piece of legislation might stifle a nascent, dynamic and innovative cellular agriculture sector on Italian soil. Here, we would like to quote The Italian Alliance for Complementary Proteins, which brings together industry companies, researchers and non-profit associations: “This bill tells Italians what they can and cannot eat, stifles innovation, and likely violates EU law. It is truly disheartening that Italy will be excluded from a new job-creating industry and barred from selling more climate-friendly foods. Once famous for pioneering world-changing innovations like radio, microchips, batteries, performance automobiles, and ground-breaking fashion – Italian politicians are now choosing to go backwards while the rest of the world moves forward.”
As the European association of cultivated meat or seafood producers, we call on the Commission to take action to ensure that the EU law is enforced in all member states.