FOOD SECURITY

France falls behind as other countries master 'cultured meat'

A nugget made from cell-based chicken meat in Singapore, the first country to allow the sale of meat produced without slaughtering any animals.
A nugget made from cell-based chicken meat in Singapore, the first country to allow the sale of meat produced without slaughtering any animals. AFP - NICHOLAS YEO

France’s cultured meat lobby is calling on the government to invest money in technology to produce “cell-based” animal products – meat grown in bioreactors – or risk falling behind in the international marketplace.

Advertising

The non-profit Cellular Agriculture France has sounded the alarm on an industry it says is being neglected by France, despite making strides elsewhere.

Co-founder Nathalie Rolland, a food science specialist, said the known benefits of cultivated meat to human health, animal welfare and the environment warranted public money being spent on its development.

“If the government does not invest in cellular meat companies in France, then French people will end up eating food brought in from other countries,” Rolland told RFI.

2020 was a bumper year for the industry, with cultured beef and chicken appearing on menus in Singapore and Israel, and the industry as a whole receiving more than 300 million euros in investment. 

Growing acceptance

In a sign of the sector's growing acceptance in the United States and Britain, a recent study found that 80 percent of consumers were open to eating meat from a laboratory. That figure rose to 95 percent among younger people from generation Z.

However, attitudes are slower to change in France – Europe's leading beef producer with more than 19 million cattle. The country’s powerful farming lobby has been blamed for the government’s reluctance to get on board with cultured meat. 

While neighbours Belgium and Spain are spending millions of euros of public money on research projects to explore the commercial viability of cell-based products, France has remained opposed – even banning the future sale of cultured meat to school canteens.

In an opinion piece published in daily newspaper Le Monde, Rolland said France had an obligation to start funding cellular agriculture – an important part of the pan-European ecological transition known as the European Green Deal.

“We call on France to fund research projects very quickly to avoid falling too far behind in this fundamentally important market,” she said.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning