On July 19, the Italian Senate approved a law that bans the production and import of agricultural goods in an effort to safeguard the interests of the country, its culinary legacy, and the health of its citizens.
The measure n. 2458 for “the protection of human health and the environment in relation to the production, marketing, and importation of foods of non-animal origin” received 93 of the 154 senatorial votes in the upper chamber. The Chamber of Deputies still needs to pass the law before it can be officially approved.
Francesco Lollobrigida, the Minister of Agriculture, presented the law to the Council of Ministers back in March, and it was approved. The law contains provisions that forbid the creation and distribution of allegedly “synthetic” food and feed. Following the Senate vote, Lollobrigida tweeted her pride in Italy’s pioneering role as the first nation to outlaw the sale, importation, and manufacture of synthetic food. He also praised the Meloni administration for giving national concerns top priority.
Italian agricultural lobby Coldiretti expressed satisfaction with the outcome in a press release: “Italy, which is the world leader in food quality and safety, has the responsibility of leading the way in health and environmental protection policies.”
The widest Italian environmental organization Legambiente stated that the bill serves to avoid talking about “serious responsibilities of intensive farming,” whereas critics claim the ban is directed at products that “do not exist,” making it seem more like a symbolic measure or propaganda than a practical regulation.
According to the most recent report from the nonprofit think tank Good Food Institute, which works to accelerate the development of alternative proteins, “The State of Global Policy on Alternative Proteins,” the European Union and several national governments announced in 2022 a total of $534,2 million for the development of plant-based foods, cultivated meat, and fermentation. As Minister Lollobrigida noted, Italian policy framework on cultivated meat is moving against the trend. The market for farmed meat is already booming in other parts of the world, including the United States, Singapore, and Israel.
Even France, which shares the boot-shaped neighboring nation’s beef tradition, has pledged up to $62,7 million for research into sustainable protein production and more than $11,2 million in funding to aid plant-based food producer Umiami in purchasing and retrofitting a production facility.
In addition to the ban on synthetic food and feed, Minister Lollobrigida stated that a decree identifying “food names” – such burger or fillet – that cannot be used when referring to plant-based goods will be introduced once the legislation goes into force. This restriction is intended to avoid any potential consumer confusion or fraud.