ITALY – Italy is on the verge of becoming the first country in the world to ban synthetic food products as discussions on a bill to prohibit the production, import, and sale of such items have commenced in the lower house of the Italian parliament.

This move follows the bill’s approval in the upper house (Senate and has gained momentum due to the efforts of the Italian association of agricultural producers, Coldiretti.

The association conducted an information campaign and collected over 2 million signatures in support of the bill.

According to Coldiretti, a significant majority of Italians (74%) do not wish to see the proliferation of “food created in a laboratory.”

The proposal to ban synthetic food has received support from Italy’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Francesco Lollobrigida.

Coldiretti President Ettore Prandini emphasized the need to respect the precautionary principle in the face of unknowns surrounding new food technology that could potentially impact people’s lives and the environment.

Prandini pointed out that studies by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization have identified risks associated with disease transmission, animal infections, and microbial contamination in cell-based foods.

Concerns also extended to the use of components such as growth factors and hormones in bioreactors, which have been banned in European farms for more than 40 years.

The association disputed claims that livestock farming is responsible for increased carbon dioxide emissions, arguing that synthetic meat production emits 4-25 times more carbon dioxide per kilogram compared to traditional animal husbandry.

“Italy’s decision to ban synthetic food products aligns with our emphasis on traditional agriculture and the protection of natural, high-quality products.”

The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, voiced his support for traditional agriculture and criticized the use of the name of natural products for synthetic ones.

Italy’s stance diverges from the European Union’s approach, which, according to some Italian conservatives, is viewed as bureaucratic and unsuitable for addressing the challenges facing the continent.

Meanwhile, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group is seeking to build an alternative majority to the left in the European Parliament after the EU elections in June 2024.

They aim to counter the EU’s Green Deal and its emissions reduction targets, which they believe could lead to reduced food production and increased reliance on imports or synthetic products with uncertain quality standards.