Italy bans lab-grown meat as investment pours into lab-grown meat production in other nations

Italy bans lab-grown meat as investment pours into lab-grown meat production in other nations
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“Lab-grown food may be the next great investment boom” and help the environment, too, reports The Telegraph. But Italy is banning some lab-grown meat anyway.

The Telegraph reports:

It is no longer science fiction to envisage a day when half the world’s meat and dairy industry is displaced by food grown in steel bioreactors or precision fermentation vats, without the need to slaughter animals, deplete aquifers or chop down Amazonia to grow feed.

Venture capital funds can already see the fortunes to be made from disrupting and undercutting today’s agro-industrial regime. “Once we get to scale I am absolutely convinced that we’ll be able to produce food at the same price or cheaper than traditional food within five years,” said Jim Mellon, founder of Agronomics.

It is hard for a small investor to buy into this story. The start-ups are all private equity ventures. His London fund is the only listed equity in the world today that offers a pure play on this technology, with a portfolio of holdings covering meat, dairy, dog food, fish, chocolate, leather and cotton.

One favourite is BlueNalu, which is developing Pacific bluefin tuna for the Asian market. Bluefin costs $80 (£65) a pound at Tokyo’s Toyosu fish stalls. “BlueNalu can make it for $25, with a 100pc return on their first plant,” he said.

None of this should be confused with those plant-based foods [like Beyond Meat] that sit forlornly on supermarket shelves, trying to mimic beef burgers or sausages….Cell-ag is a radically different technology.
“We don’t invest in plant-based foods. They are ultra-processed and cost two to three times more. They’re not good for the environment either,” said Mr Mellon.

It first became possible to buy a cow-free milk cappuccino at a Seattle Starbucks two years ago. Perfect Day makes the milk by instructing yeast-cells to create the right proteins from the DNA of a Montana dairy cow called Dominette.

The process does not need antibiotics or steroids, routinely added in the industrial dairy factories of the US and China, some numbering 30,000 cows that live in hangars and scarcely see daylight. It emits 97pc less CO2. It uses 99pc less water. The cappuccino tastes fine.

Cultivating beef, chicken and pork from animal cells is harder, but you can today sit down for a lab-grown chicken skewer at Huber’s Butchery in Singapore. You would not know that this GOOD Meat chicken is grown in a bioreactor, fed for five weeks with amino-acids from pea proteins, along with corn oil, yeast and vitamins….The US approved GOOD Meat in June….It takes 28 months to raise a beef cow. ‘We can do it in 40 days from one sample of stem cells,’ he said.

But not everyone is on board with lab-grown meat. “Italy has banned the production of lab-grown meat in a bid to protect its powerful agricultural industry,” reports The Financial Times.

“We are the first nation to ban it, with all due respect to the multinationals who hope to make monstrous profits” at the expense of “citizens’ jobs,” said Italy’s agriculture minister in a Facebook post. Coldiretti, a league of Italian farmers, launched a campaign last year to ban cultivated meat, collecting more than two million signatures.“We are proud to be the first country that . . . blocks, as a precaution, the sale of food produced in laboratories,” Ettore Prandini, the Coldiretti president, wrote on Facebook after Italy’s ban was enacted.

The Financial Times reports that “Italian agribusinesses had feared that future demand for cultivated meat among young Italians concerned about the environmental consequences of meat consumption could hit their bottom line.” The new law claims that “Synthetic food represents a dangerous means of destroying every link with natural food and different lands by cancelling every cultural distinction, often thousands of years old.”

The Financial Times notes that

Not all Italians were happy with the decision, with members of the small Italian libertarian opposition party Più Europa holding up signs in front of the parliament, accusing the Coldiretti president of “cultivating ignorance” and shouting “shame, shame”. “Coldiretti . . . has distorted this debate for their direct economic interests,” said Benedetto Della Vedova, Più Europa president. Environmental groups also expressed dismay at the Italian ban. Francesca Gallelli from plant-based advocacy group the Good Food Institute Europe told the Financial Times that the move would hinder the fight against climate change. Cultivated meat allowed people “to eat what they love” with fewer emissions, she said. While investors poured money into this sector in other European countries, she added, Italy today had “shut the door on these opportunities”.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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