Lab-Grown Food – EU Ministers confirm that the Novel Food regulation is not fit for purpose 

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Brussels, 23rd January 2024 – Yesterday’s discussions held at the EU AGRIFISH Council on the CAP´s role in safeguarding high quality and primary farm-based food productionbased on the note from the Austrian, French and Italian Delegations supported by many delegations, is in line with the recent statement by the European Parliament: the Novel food regulation is not fit for purpose for synthetic food

The Ministers point out that “laboratory-cultivated food production raises many questions that have to be thoroughly discussed between the Member States, the Commission, stakeholders, and the general public. […] These questions are essential for the future society that we want to build in Europe and should therefore be part of a renewed and broad debate in the EU specific to lab-grown meat”.

The Belgium presidency summarised the discussion in the Council underlining that the debate ended with a number of Member States calling for a moratorium until correct and satisfactory information is available to assess these new foods and conduct a public consultation on these products. Many countries are also calling for the quality of EU food production to be defended.

Based on these clear statements, from the European Parliament in October 2023 and yesterday from EU ministers, Farm Europe and Eat Europe call upon the EU institutions to avoid any step forward on synthetic food based on the Novel food regulation. EU farmers and food producers’ efforts to innovate, and build sustainable and resilient food systems closely linked to nature must not be undermined by decisions not based on transparent and solid analysis. We consider that synthetic products are closer to the pharmaceutical industry than to food, and certainly not in line with EU food values, including when it comes to innovative food products.

“The wide consensus gained by the document presented to the Council today is of utmost importance not only for the European food value chain but above all for the consumers. It is a strong call for the precautionary principle to be used and for more research to be put in place, to investigate more the risks and challenges already highlighted by the WHO and FAO related to synthetic food” states Luigi Scordamaglia, President of Eat Europe.

“Farmers are doing their best to improve the way they produce food, reinforcing environmental sustainability and investing in innovation,  to answer to the needs expressed by the society. Cellular products are a leap into the unknown. They entail ethical, social, environmental, and economic challenges. Therefore, we welcome the call from EU ministers for a thorough assessment” declares Yves Madre, President of Farm Europe.

How to make sure that EU consumers have access to sustainable and healthy diets that are anchored in resilient, diverse, viable agricultural systems is a pivotal question for the future of the European Food Systems. This topic will also be debated during the Global Food Forum that Farm Europe is organizing in Brussels the 13th and 14th of February. The panel on “Animal-based food: a key place for nutritional balance and sustainability” will provide the opportunity for experts, and institutional and political representatives to deep dive into the risks and identify solutions.