EU emerging as the next Silicon Valley for cultivated meat innovation

The EU’s gold standard regulatory framework is positioning it as the Silicon Valley of cultivated meat and promising economic and environmental triumphs.

According to food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, the EU Agriculture Ministers are due to meet on 23 January to discuss the regulation of cultivated meat within the 27 Member State bloc, with concerns expected to be raised over the approvals process.

“We already have the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Novel Foods Regulation to ensure safe and nutritious products are brought quickly to the EU market,” Jasmijn de Boo, global CEO of ProVeg International, said.

“This firmly sets up the EU to be a Silicon Valley for cultivated meat companies, bringing income security and improved livelihoods to thousands of farmers and giving a much needed boost to biodiversity where land is freed up. It is a hugely exciting time for the bloc,” De Boo added.

De Boo warned that the EU needed to effectively allay any concerns about cultivated meat otherwise it stands to fall behind in the global agri-tech race to benefit from the emerging industry.

“Singapore and the US have already approved a handful of products, leading the way for others to follow. So the EU already has some catching up to do. But the ground has been prepared and innovative European companies are already gearing up to bring their products to European consumers,” De Boo said.

The EU stands to benefit economically as alternative proteins are expected to reach between 11% and 22% of the overall protein market by 2035 (1,2). The global market-size specifically for cultivated meat could represent $20 billion by 2030.

Studies also have high confidence that a developing cultivated meat industry will create new employment opportunities and benefit food security, human health, and animals. If the EU takes a bold, innovation-forward approach, these baseline forecasts could be surpassed.

EU governments already investing in the future. The Netherlands, Spain and Germany have already made substantial investments into cultivated meat.

The Dutch government announced in April 2022 that it had to support the creation of a national cellular agriculture ecosystem as part of the country’s National Growth Fund. The Spanish government, through the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), awarded €5.2 million to a cultivated meat project led by BioTech Foods that is investigating the health impacts of cultivated meat in the prevention of colon cancer and dyslipidemia.

In Germany, the government announced late last year that it had earmarked €38 million in its 2024 budget for the promotion of plant-based, precision-fermented and cell-cultivated proteins.

The first submission for an approval for cultivated meat in Europe happened outside the EU in Switzerland when Aleph Farms submitted approval for cultivated beef steaks this year from the Swiss authorities. The same company has also sought approval from the UK authorities.

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