BRUSSELS, Jan 28 — A “culinary alliance” started by EU members Austria, France and Italy is seeking a public debate around lab-grown meat, agriculture ministers said on Tuesday while attending a meeting in Brussels.

Synthetic meat cannot be sold in the European Union as it has not been authorised by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Austria and Italy’s ministers said a public consultation and impact study of such lab-grown meat should be first carried out and then if — as seems likely — it is approved for human consumption, it should be clearly labelled.


The wariness around the issue added to growing tensions in Europe’s farm sector, which is staging a slew of protests, largely related to higher production costs and environmental regulations.

The demonstrations come as the EU is undergoing a shift towards a carbon-neutral future, which implies big changes across the bloc — including in food production and farm activities.

Lab-grown meat is seen as a way of helping cut the major greenhouse gas production that is created from livestock farming. Animal rights groups also view it as a way of reducing the death and poor conditions of live animals bred for food.


But Austrian Agriculture Minister Norbert Totschnig said synthetic meat — which is already authorised for sale in the United States and Singapore — “is by no means comparable with naturally grown meat”.

He said it was “produced under sterile conditions with all kinds of artificial additives and with a high energy requirement”.

“A discussion and a comprehensive impact assessment” was needed, and should it end up being approved in the European Union, “we are calling for mandatory labelling,” he said.

That is why his country along with France and Italy “have now come together to form a culinary alliance on this matter”, Totschnig said.

His Italian counterpart, Francesco Lollobrigida, said nine other countries have joined that position, set out in a signed document circulated at the Brussels meeting of agriculture ministers.

Lollobrigida called cultivated meat “a potential danger for Europe from many points of view, perhaps the health one, perhaps the environmental one, perhaps the ethical one”.

He noted that Italy in November last year imposed its own ban on the production and sale of synthetic meat, “and today many other nations start from the assumption that it is a potential threat”.

“We asked that science give us the answers we asked for,” he said, and called for a public consultation of EU citizens on the issue.

EU authorisation is needed for products considered to be a “novel food” to go on sale.

The EFSA has already approved human consumption in the EU of products derived from house crickets, migratory locusts, yellow mealworm larvae and lesser mealworm larvae, which since 2021 have gone on sale with labelling requirements. — ETX Studio