The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), representing over 1.2 billion farmers worldwide, has taken a resolute stand against adopting lab-grown food as an alternative to the food resulting from the work of farmers. The Organisation, in a recent position paper adopted by its General Assembly, underlines the significance of sustainable agriculture and raises 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. 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.
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”, makes it 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. 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.
The WFO values innovation and embraces an approach that is bottom-up, science-based, and result-oriented. 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. WFO strongly promotes the critical role of innovation to improve the efficiency of “real agriculture”.
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. Such 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.
While the debate surrounding lab-grown food continues to intensify and consumers and policymakers navigate the complexities of the future of food, the position adopted by the World Farmers’ Organisation serves as a strong message making the farmers’ voice heard loud and clear and reminding the world of the invaluable and irreplaceable role that farmers play in feeding the planet sustainably.