Italy Bans Lab-Grown Meat

In a Facebook post, Italy’s Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, announced on November 16 that Italy bans lab-grown meat.

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Italy was the first nation to outlaw cultivated meat, citing concerns for the welfare of its people, the farming sector, and the economy.

Lab-grown meat sometimes referred to as “cultivated meat,” is produced in a laboratory using a five-step procedure that starts with animal stem cells that are reproduced and grown in a succession of bioreactors. Afterward, the meat is combined with chemicals to give it a more lifelike feel. The meat cells are subsequently created, drained in a centrifuge, and packaged for delivery, as per the advisory firm McKinsey & Company.

“In defense of health, of the Italian production system, of thousands of jobs, of our culture and tradition, with the law approved today, Italy is the first nation in the world to be safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food,” read the English translation of a Facebook post made by Italy’s Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, on November 16.

The agricultural organizations in the nation backed the law, which was approved by the Senate 159–53 to preserve Italy’s $10.1 billion meat-processing sector.

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Cultivated chicken is made in tanks at Eat Just in Alameda, Calif., on July 27, 2023. Cell-cultivated or lab-grown meat is made by feeding nutrients to animal cells in stainless steel tanks. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The United States is making efforts to prevent the sale of lab-grown meat or to make sure that consumers understand what they are purchasing. One such effort is the 2018 Missouri law that outlaws the labeling of plant-based and lab-grown foods as “meat.”

“​​This act also prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry,” the law states.

Representative Tyler Sirois of Florida filed a bill on November 13th to outlaw the “manufacturing, sale, holding, or distribution of cultivated meat” within the state.

“Farming and cattle are incredibly important industries to Florida,” the Republican legislator told Politico. “So I think this is a very relevant discussion for our state to have.”

If HB 435 is signed into law, manufacturers, processors, packers, and distributors that misrepresent or mislabel food may face fines of up to $10,000 per infraction, in addition to fines for restaurants and retail establishments that violate the bill up to $5,000.

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Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services for the State of Florida Wilton Simpson supports Mr. Sirois’s efforts wholeheartedly.

“Without this legislation, untested, potentially unsafe, and nearly unregulated laboratory-produced meat could be made available in Florida,” Mr. Simpson said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“One of my top responsibilities is ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of our food supply and protecting Florida’s consumers, and this proposal does just that.”

The bill was referred to the Agriculture, Conservation, and Resiliency Subcommittee on November 22.

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Wilson Castro restocks the shelves in the meat department at the Presidente Supermarket in Miami on April 13, 2020. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Cultivated Meat Market

Only Singapore and the United States have authorized the consumption of farmed meat for human consumption thus far.

According to Research and Markets, the global market for lab-grown meat is expected to increase to around $2 billion by 2035. Sixteen companies—five in the US, three in Israel, two in the Netherlands, two in Singapore, and one each in China, India, the UK, and Switzerland—are listed as cultivators of meat.

“In 2025, the nuggets segment is expected to account for the largest share of the lab-grown meat market,” Research and Markets states in its January analysis.

“The large market share of this segment is attributed to the increasing adoption of on-the-go lifestyles, the growing demand for snacking products, and the increasing demand for frozen products.”

However, the business projects that from 2025 to 2035, lab-grown burger patties will have the highest compound annual growth rate.

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Chef Zach Tyndall brushes sauce on a piece of Good Meat’s cultivated chicken as it’s grilled at the Eat Just office in Alameda, Calif., on July 27, 2023. In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture authorized two California-based companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, to sell chicken grown from cells in a lab. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The FDA declared in November 2022 that it had “completed its first pre-market consultation for a human food made from cultured animal cells.”

Two American companies, Good beef, and Upside Food, received the first-ever license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make cell-cultured beef on June 21.

Eat Just, Inc., a food technology firm, owns the developed meat brand Good Meat, which is manufactured in Singapore and the United States.

The company claims that the USDA’s approval permits the production and sale of its first lab-grown chicken product in the US. The company had obtained its “No Questions” letter from the FDA four months prior, indicating that it had successfully completed a food safety review.

“Our first product is cultivated chicken that is prepared and served in multiple formats and was approved for sale in Singapore in 2020 and the United States in 2023,” the company states on its website.

“We’re also working on other types of meat, including cultivated beef using cells from California pasture-raised cattle and Wagyu from the Toriyama farm in Japan.”

In July, the Washington-based restaurant China Chilcano expanded its menu to include a meal made with grown chicken from Good Meat.

UBS O’Connor, a hedge fund management company under UBS Asset Management, and the Singapore-based K3 Ventures and Graphene Ventures venture capital firms are major investors in Good Meat.

Since the company’s founding in 2017, Upside Foods has had significant funding from Bill Gates.

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Bill Gates speaks at an event called “Transforming Food Systems in the face of Climate Change” during the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Dubai on Dec. 1, 2023. (Christophe Viseux/COP28 via Getty Images)

According to Upside Foods, the USDA’s approval permits the business to cultivate and market its chicken. According to the company, the process of making its chicken fillet product takes roughly three weeks.

“Not to get bogged down in semantics, but we can’t overstate this: We’re making meat!” the company states on its website. 

“Cultivated meat is a brand-new product category, so we understand that there’s a lot of confusion out there about what it is and what it isn’t. For one thing, cultivated meat is not vegan or vegetarian.”

As stated by the corporation, “more than 99 percent of chicken cells” go into making their cell-cultivated chicken.

Lab Meat Advocates

Proponents of lab-grown meat assert that it is better for the environment, gentler to animals, and healthier for people.

Nicolas Treich is a member of the Toulouse School of Economics at Toulouse Capitole University and an associate researcher at the National Institute for Agriculture, Nutrition, and the Environment in France.

He makes the case against conventional cow ranching in a 2021 study released by Springer Nature, stating that there are “important moral concerns due to the treatment of farm animals.”

“It is estimated that more than 70 billion terrestrial farm animals are raised and killed for food every year,” Mr. Treich wrote, adding that animals raised for food are “usually slaughtered very young.”

He stated that pigs “are confined for weeks in small crates, prohibiting basic movements including walking and turning around.”

He stated that pigs “are confined for weeks in small crates, prohibiting basic movements including walking and turning around.”

According to Mr. Treich, there has been a growing recognition in animal sciences of “the emotional and cognitive abilities of animals, including those of farm animals.”

“Given that about 70 [percent to] 80 percent of antibiotics worldwide are used for farm animals, animal food production is also an incubator for antimicrobial resistance,” he said.

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Cattle are loaded into a truck in preparation for a cattle auction, in Quemado, Texas, on June 28, 2023. Ranchers and farmers have begun to cull their cattle herds because of drought and high costs in the region, threatening a potentially steep climb in prices for the country’s supply of beef. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

He claims that while eating too much red or processed meat causes health problems like “coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, calcium homeostasis, and numerous cancers,” eating real animal meat still provides “some important nutrients.”

In his conclusion, Mr. Treich states that the production of conventional meat “contributes significantly to climate change,” necessitates “a great deal of water and land,” and has a big role in “deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and epidemics.”

“[Lab-grown meat] provides a serious, perhaps the most serious, alternative to be able to significantly reduce the deleterious impacts of meat production and consumption,” he writes.

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Butchers at Old Fashion Country Butcher process meat as they work to meet increased demand because of COVID-19-related shortages, in Santa Paula, Calif., on May 21, 2020. Greater support for smaller meat operations has risen after large plants have been disrupted. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Lab Meat Critics

Opponents of lab-grown meat claim it poses health hazards to people, is bad for the environment, and will hurt the economy.

A study published on April 21 by researchers from the University of California–Davis (UC–Davis) and the University of California–Holtville contradicts the claim that conventional cattle ranching is more environmentally friendly.

According to the study, “when examined from the cradle to production gate perspective for the scenarios and assumptions utilized in our analyses,” the production of meat derived from animal cells “appears to be resource intensive.” According to the study, there may be a noticeable increase in carbon dioxide emissions per kilogramme when meat is produced in a lab.

“Our model generally contradicts these previous studies by suggesting that the environmental impact of cultured meat is likely to be higher than conventional beef systems, as opposed to more environmentally friendly,” the authors wrote.

“This is an important conclusion given that investment dollars have specifically been allocated to this sector with the thesis that this product will be more environmentally friendly than beef.”

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Employees at Believer Meats work in labs at the company’s headquarters in Rehovot, Israel, on Feb. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Laura Ungar)

Additionally, the study cautions against promoting a novel food source that might have worldwide effects.

“Agricultural and food production systems are central to feeding a growing global population and the development of technology which enhances food production is important for societal progress,” the report states.

“Evaluation of these potentially disruptive technologies from a systems-level perspective is essential for those seeking to transform our food system.”

According to USDA data as of December 2022, the biggest share of agricultural cash revenues in 2021 came from U.S. sales of animals and animal products, which totaled $195.8 billion, with $72.9 billion (37 percent) coming from cattle and calves. This is less than the $78.2 billion in cash receipts that were declared in 2015.

“Cheap imports of grass-fed beef,” which comprised between 75 and 80 percent of all U.S. sales of grass-fed beef, are a significant problem for ranchers in the United States, according to a 2017 Stone Barns Centre for Food & Agriculture report.

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USDA Choice beef is displayed for sale in a grocery store in Los Angeles on Nov. 11, 2021. Consumer prices have increased solidly in the past few months as inflation has risen to a level not seen in 30 years. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The survey also found that most American consumers are unaware that the beef they buy is imported because, according to regulations, “it can be labelled ‘Product of the USA’ as long as the imported beef passes through a USDA-inspected plant.”

“My concern would just be scaling this up too quickly and doing something harmful for the environment,” said Derrick Risner, lead author of the UC–Davis study.

Dr. Paul Saladino calls lab-grown meat “a travesty waiting to happen.”

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“Lab-grown meat is not real meat,” he said in a Sept. 14 video on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It’s made in cell culture in a lab. It’s almost certainly going to cause health issues for humans—autoimmune issues, damage to the gut, all sorts of problems can arise from meat grown in a petri dish.”

Lab meat will have a “lower nutrient profile compared to meat from a cow that has grown eating grass in nature,” according to Dr. Saladino.

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Animal cells are viewed under a microscope at the research lab of Yaakov Nahmias, founder of Believer Meats, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel on Feb. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Emma H. Tobin)

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