(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s government introduced a draft law that, if approved, will ban the production and sale of cultivated food and meat.

“We are proud to be the first nation in the world to stop this decadence,” said Augusta Montaruli, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party.

Cultivated, or cell-based, meat is created by harvesting cells from live animals and providing them with nutrients so they’ll grow in bioreactors and then taking additional steps to turn the cells into a consumer-ready meat product.

The draft law, which will only come into force if voted by both branches of parliament, appears to be a preventive move aimed at signaling the government’s determination in defending Italy’s culinary tradition.

The draft “is based on the precautionary principle, because there are no scientific studies yet on the effects of synthetic foods,” Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said in a press conference Tuesday. “We want to protect citizens’ health and to safeguard our nation’s heritage and our agri-food culture based on the Mediterranean diet.”

While plant-based proteins are widely available, cultivated meat still has a long way to go before it hits supermarket shelves. Most startups are yet to scale up the technology before they even obtain regulatory approval. So far, only Singapore has permitted sales of cultivated chicken, while two companies have just cleared a first regulatory hurdle in the US.

“This development puts Italy at odds with the rest of Europe, where other governments are eager to unlock the benefits of cultivated meat,” said Alice Ravenscroft, head of policy at the Good Food Institute Europe, which represents the alternative protein industry. The Netherlands, the UK and Spain have all announced funding for alternative proteins in recent years, she said.

--With assistance from Chiara Albanese, Agnieszka de Sousa and Deena Shanker.

(Updates to add detail of process producing cultivated, or cell-based, meat in third paragraph)

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