World Farmers' Organisation rejects lab-grown food

Food security, safety, human health, cultural heritage on the line
calendar icon 7 July 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The World Farmers' Organisation (WFO), which represents over 1.2 billion farmers globally, is taking a stand against adopting lab-grown food as an alternative to the food resulting from the work of farmers, according to a press release from the organisation. 

In a recent position paper adopted by its General Assembly, WFO underlined the significance of sustainable agriculture and raised concerns regarding the potential impact of lab-grown food on global food security, food safety and human health, cultural heritage, and the livelihoods of farming communities.

Lab-grown food, substances produced in laboratories for human consumption, are created using tissues or cells and are not naturally occurring on a large scale, the press release said. Furthermore, WFO believes they are supported by marketing campaigns that enhance the myth of greater sustainability compared to agriculture.

Farmers firmly reject this narrative that lacks scientific evidence.

WFO highlighted the recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), titled "Food Safety Aspects of Cell-Based Food", which they say makes clear that there is no reliable evidence to compare cell-based food to farmer-produced one. 

"There is still much to consider about its nutritional value and how it could affect human health in the long term," WFO said. "In addition, any claims regarding less land and water use, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, animal welfare and reduced risk of zoonotic diseases have yet to be proved."

The role of farmers is essential in shaping resilient and sustainable food systems. 

Achieving sustainability involves embracing diverse agricultural systems, ensuring inclusiveness and transparency, and promoting research and innovation while preserving tradition, WFO added.

In the release, the organisation calls for collaboration among farmers, researchers, and stakeholders in the value chain to address the challenges ahead, develop innovative practices, and deliver sustainable solutions to produce, process, distribute and consume food in a sustainable manner. 

Stronger connections between consumers, policymakers, and the agricultural and rural communities to promote a better understanding of the benefits of agriculture, including livestock farming.

On these assumptions, the WFO strongly opposes replacing farmer-grown food with lab-made food stuff, add that substitutes dismiss the work and contribution of farmers to sustainability and push consumers towards a homogenous dietary model that undermines the tradition, diversity, richness, quality, and uniqueness of regional food systems across the planet.

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