ROME — New foods such as laboratory-produced “meats” risk harming Italian culture, identity and civilization, Italian Minister of Food Sovereignty and Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida warned on Thursday .
Speaking to POLITICO as the Italian parliament passed Europe’s first legislation banning lab-grown meat, Lollobrigida said the measures aimed to “defend work, the environment, culture and identity – which are rooted in food quality” and that they aimed to “defend our civilization against a model driven by offshoring and long supply chains.
The right-wing government led by Giorgia Meloni has seized on the new foods to open a new front in the cultural war.
For Lollobrigida, cultured meat production poses an existential threat to traditional meat farming and to a rural way of life lived in harmony with the land: “If you produce food that has no connection with humans, land, labor, you can move production to other countries. a place with lower taxes and fewer environmental standards, which harms jobs and the environment.
The opposition criticized these measures as “ideological propaganda” consistent with Meloni’s party’s hostility towards globalization and modernity, and with its defense of a sometimes imagined traditional lifestyle and values.
Since coming to power a year ago as Italy’s first food sovereignty minister, Lollobrigida, who is Meloni’s brother-in-law, has introduced a series of patriotic measures defending Italian culture and culinary heritage.
In March, the minister introduced measures requiring clear labeling and health warnings for flour derived from insects such as crickets and mealworm larvae. Insect meal, rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals, has been authorized by the EU.
Lollobrigida said he was “not against insects…but for transparency.” We guarantee that citizens know if there is a scorpion or larva in their flour.
Lollobrigida set its sights this summer on an invasive alien species, the Atlantic blue crab, which threatens Italy’s native clams and mussels. He shared an image of Meloni and a crab dish on a family vacation to persuade people to eat their way out of the crab crisis.
Italy has always been a strong defender of its culinary heritage and has more products with a protected designation of origin (like Parmigiano Reggiano) than any other country.
But for Lollobrigida, food sovereignty is not about protecting farmers but about “defending a system that must be free to decide what to produce and what to eat.” Food sovereignty is a movement based on the right to consume culturally appropriate foods, as well as local self-determination in food systems and support for traditional knowledge, rejecting technologies such as genetically modified crops and synthetic pesticides.
Conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have demonstrated that strategic autonomy over food is essential, Lollobrigida said, because dependence on long supply chains for energy, fertilizer and food “has made us left at the mercy of criminals and autocrats who can blackmail us. energy and fertilizers, and could in the future blackmail us about food.
The lower house of parliament on Thursday approved Lollobrigida’s bill banning the production and sale of synthetic meat.
The Italian Complementary Protein Alliance, a group representing companies and researchers with expertise in plant-based and cultured meat proteins, said the bill “tells Italians what they can and cannot eat, stifles innovation and likely violates EU law… Once famous for the world Changing innovations such as microchips and revolutionary fashions, Italian politicians are now choosing to turn back the clock while the world moves forward.
Ettore Prandini, president of the Coldiretti farmers’ association, said: “Italy, which is the world leader in food quality and safety, has the duty to lead the way in policies aimed at protecting health of citizens”, adding that “the battle is now moving towards Europe”. “.
Commentators have pointed out that Italy may not be able to oppose the sale of synthetic meat produced within the European Union, where the common single market allows the free movement of goods and services.
Lollobrigida responded that he did not expect problems from the EU, which “defends the principle that the identity of peoples must be preserved.”