Cellular agriculture, the Parliament in Italy approves the ban

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cellular agriculture

The bill that introduces the ban on importing, producing in Italy and exportingfood or feed consisting of, isolated or produced from‘cellular agriculture or’tissues deriving from vertebrate animals‘ (1) – in addition to prohibiting ‘meat sounding’, i.e. the reference to names of products of animal origin on the label and advertising of foods of different nature (i.e. ‘plant-based foods’, mycoproteins) – was definitively approved by Parliament of Rome, 15 November 2023.

1) Cellular agriculture and ‘meat sounding’, bans in Italy. Legislative process

The legislative initiative comes from the ministers of agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida and health minister Orazio Schillaci. In faithful compliance with the orders of Coldiretti, the powerful group that commands sector policies in Italy.

The bill which bans in Italy food and feed made (in whole or in part) with ‘cell cultures’ and prohibits ‘meat sounding’ was therefore approved:

  • by the Council of Ministers, 28 March 2023, (1)
  • to the Senate of the Italian Republic, on 19 July 2023, (2)
  • in the Chamber of Deputies, on 15 November 2023.

Thus concluded the political examination, the text is now destined for the signature of the President of the Republic – who is also entitled to scrutinize its constitutional legitimacy (in this case lacking. See note 1) – and publication in the Official Journal.

2) Violation of EU law, inapplicability

The scheme of law was notified to the European Commission – as required, pursuant to TRIS (Technical Regulations Information System) Directive EU No 2015/1535 – on 27 July 2023. (3) The Italian government, however, withdrew the notification – with justifications whose falsity emerges in the approval without modification, by the Chamber, of the text already approved in the Senate – after having received a series of negative comments. (4)

The technical standards national governments that affect the production and marketing of goods and some services must in any case be subjected to prior notification to Brussels and the consequent ‘standstill period’, to collect comments from member states and ‘stakeholders’, awaiting any responses of the European Commission. Which may ask the Member State for further information and, if necessary, order it to abstain from adopting the measure.

In both cases of lack of notification and failure to comply with the procedure established by the TRIS Directive, as in the case in question, the national technical standard is inapplicable. That is to say that the authorities, judicial and administrative, have the duty to disapply it. Based on consolidated jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). (5) The European Commission in turn is responsible for warning the Member State from adopting the rule.

3) Provisional conclusions. Wastepaper.

The government and Parliament Italian, sadly tele-guided by Coldiretti, have deliberately violated EU law with a rule that is worth like waste paper, the content of which has already been described in a previous article published on GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). (2) For the umpteenth time, like their predecessors from the parties now in opposition, who also caused unjustified damage to economic operators in Italy. (6)

The Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Rome should also ascertain any liability for ideological forgery in a public document where it is found that any manager of the ministries involved – including that ‘of Made in Italy and businesses‘ – has falsely declared to Brussels that the conditions for maintaining the notification of the bill under consideration in Brussels have ceased to exist.

#Clean shovels

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. Italy, cellular agriculture prohibited by law? Unconstitutional bill. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 2.4.23

(2) Dario Dongo. Italy, the Senate approves the law banning cellular agriculture and ‘meat sounding’. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 24.7.23

(3) European Commission. TRIS (Technical Regulations Information System). Notification 2023/0469/IT (Italy) https://tinyurl.com/5579vav3

(4) Dario Dongo. Italy, Cellular agriculture and ‘meat sounding’, Italy under the EU lens. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 5.10.23

(5) Dario Dongo (2019). Food Regulations and Enforcement in Italy. Reference Module in Food Science. Elsevier, pp. 1–5. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100596-5.21172-

(6) Some previous Italian regulations adopted in clear violation of the TRIS Directive (EU) No 2015/1535 – despite the indifference of the European Ombudsman to the complaints presented by the writer – are cited in the previous article by Dario Dongo. Decree on the origin of the wheat on the pasta label, the Lazio TAR and EU rules. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.