‘Culinary alliance’ in EU wants debate on cultivated meat
EU members Austria, France, and Italy have initiated a 'culinary alliance' and are advocating for a public discussion on cultivated meat, as stated by agriculture ministers during a meeting in Brussels last week. Currently, cultivated meat is not permitted for sale in the European Union as it lacks authorization from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The ministers from Austria and Italy proposed conducting a public consultation and an impact study on the cultivated meat. If these processes result in approval for human consumption, the ministers suggest that clear labeling should be implemented. This approach aims to involve the public in the decision-making process and ensure transparency in the introduction of lab-grown meat to the market.
The cautious approach to cultivated meat adds to the increasing tensions within Europe's farm sector, currently marked by a series of protests primarily related to higher production costs and environmental regulations. These demonstrations coincide with the EU's broader transition toward a carbon-neutral future, necessitating significant changes in various sectors, including food production and agriculture.
Cultivated meat is perceived as a potential solution to address the significant greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional livestock farming. Beyond environmental considerations, animal rights groups advocate for cultivated meat as a means of mitigating animal suffering and improving the conditions of animals bred for food. The discussions around lab-grown meat align with broader conversations about sustainability, ethical treatment of animals, and the future of food production in the context of evolving environmental goals.
Austrian Agriculture Minister, Norbert Totschnig, pictured above, expressed reservations about cultivated meat, noting that it is not comparable to naturally grown meat. He highlighted concerns about 'synthetic' meat being produced under sterile conditions with artificial additives and a high energy requirement. Totschnig emphasized the need for a comprehensive impact assessment and discussions on the matter. If cultivated meat gains approval in the European Union, he called for mandatory labeling.
Austria, along with France and Italy, has formed a culinary alliance on this issue. Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida mentioned that nine other countries have joined this alliance, expressing concerns about cultivated meat as a potential danger for Europe in terms of health, environmental impact, and ethics. Italy had imposed its own ban on synthetic meat production and sale in November of the previous year.
Lollobrigida emphasized the importance of science providing answers, calling for a public consultation with EU citizens on the issue. Authorization from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is required for products classified as 'novel food' to be sold in the EU. While the EFSA has approved the consumption of products derived from house crickets, migratory locusts, yellow mealworm larvae, and lesser mealworm larvae, cultivated meat is currently not authorized.
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