France has become the second European country to put forward legislation banning the commercialisation of cultivated meat, according to a report from European Biotechnology.
A parliamentary group led by the French Republicans is calling for “a ban on the production, processing and marketing of cell-based meat”.
The language of the proposed law states: “In the interests of human health, animal health, and the environment, it is forbidden to produce, process, and market synthetic meat anywhere in France.”
Last month, Italy became the first country in the world to formally ban the production, tasting, and marketing of cultivated meat products, which the government says it views as a threat to its local agriculture industry and food culture.
The parliamentary group behind France’s proposed ban bases its argument on a fact-finding mission launched in mid-January by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs which emphasised its “anthropological, ethical and cultural opposition” to the development of cultivated meat.
In the preamble to their legislation, the parliamentarians write that such a “purely utilitarian view of food” is contrary to the French tradition.
In line with the parliamentarians, France’s Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie recently denounced the sustainability aspect as insufficient justification for the production of cultivated meat, stating in a parliamentary speech that “Cellular meat, which I also call ‘paillasse meat’, i.e. a leg of lamb without lamb, a chicken breast without chicken, is in my view a total loss of orientation for our society. Only unscrupulous science could consider meat from the laboratory, from the test tube, as a solution.”
The Fédération Nationale Bovine (The National Bovine Federation) has given its support to the ban, citing concerns about the health and environmental impacts of cultivated meat along with the threat the organisation claims the technology poses to France’s traditional gastronomy.
The European Biotechnology report ties the initiative to the protection of the local meat industry, with France being the largest beef exporter in Europe.
The report also cites rumours that the governments of both Croatia and Austria are considering similar actions.
Additionally, Florida has recently introduced a bill to prohibit cultivated meat in the US state, and Romania’s senate has also voted to ban the sale of such products.
More Western countries taking firmer stances on cultivated meat
As France and Italy move to clamp down on their respective cellular agriculture industries, other countries across Europe are laying out firmer plans to develop the sector.
Two days after Italy’s ban announcement, Germany announced funding of €38 million in 2024 for a sustainable protein transition. The Netherlands has made a record investment of 60 million euros to develop an ecosystem for cultivated meat and precision fermentation, while the UK has earmarked £12 million for alternative protein initiatives including cultivated meat.
In Australia, regulatory authorities recently moved to the next stage of the certification process for the country’s first cultivated meat product. If the product is approved, it would make Australia the third nation in the world to legalise the sale of cultivated meat products, following Singapore and the US.