Italy just became the first country in the world to ban lab-grown meat.
The Italian government voted in support of a law banning the production, sale or import of cultivated meat or animal feed, according to the BBC.
The right-wing government there took the action on Thursday in an effort to protect its farmers and culture.
“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,” Francesco Lollobrigida, Italian minister of agriculture, said in a Facebook post on Nov. 16.
The bill passed in the Italian senate with 159 votes in favor and 53 opposed.
Supporters of the ban include Italian agricultural groups, who want to protect the country’s $10.1 billion meat-processing industry.
Leaders in parliament were divided over the issue, and at one point, a fight broke out between farmers and some masters of public service.
One of the heads of a farmers’ organization confronted two MPs from a party in opposition of the ban, calling them “criminals.”
As of now, the only two countries where cultivated meat — a market which is estimated to reach $1.99 billion by 2035 — has been approved for consumption are the United States and Singapore.
The European Union has not allowed lab-grown meat to be eaten so far, but if it does, Italy’s law could be challenged by the European Commission.
Coldiretti, Italy’s biggest farmers association, cited that the spread of lab-cultured meat would benefit multinational companies at the expense of local producers, and bring health risks.
“We are proud to be the first country that, despite being in favor of research, prevents, as a precautionary measure, the sale of laboratory-produced food whose effects it could have on the health of citizens consumers are currently unknown,” said the president of Coldiretti, Ettore Prandini, in a Facebook post.
If Italian factories are found producing synthetic meat, they can face over $160,000 fines, according to Forbes.
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