There’s a wide world of meat alternatives out there, but the latest wave of cruelty-free options aren’t the plant-based pea proteins of Beyond and Impossible. Instead, more advancement is happening in the category of lab-grown meat, made with animal cells and formed into muscle tissues—the true stuff of science. While none of these “cell cultured” meat products are available for retail purchase yet, they’ve been approved to sell to the public in the United States, so we’ll be seeing lab-grown meat on store shelves in the next few years.
There is, however, one country that has declared that it won’t stand for the stuff whatsoever. Italy has already banned the production, sale, and import of lab-grown meat.
Italians have a reputation of being passionate about their food. The BBC reports that Italian lawmakers have backed a bill completely banning cell-cultured meat products, meaning they can’t be made, imported, or sold in Italy.
The core reasoning behind this move is that it protects the agricultural industry in Italy. Farmers stand to be greatly affected by these synthetic products, which might disrupt their livelihoods and, by extension, the local economy.
The BBC notes that there were supporters on both sides of the issue, and tensions were high. At one point during the voting session last week, a physical scuffle broke out between members of Parliament and some farmers. I don’t think I could have ever predicted that people would throw hands in Parliament over cruelty-free beef, but here we are.
The bill was passed, with 159 votes in favor of the ban versus 53 votes in support of allowing the production of lab-grown meat. Any violation of the new Italian law is now punishable with a fine of up to €60,000, or $67,855 USD.
For now, Italy’s ban is a largely symbolic gesture, considering there are only two countries where lab-grown meat has been approved for human consumption: the United States and Singapore. The rest of the world hasn’t chimed in on the issue yet, but now we know for sure where Italy stands. Besides, they’re busy figuring out what to do with all these blue crabs.