It is a “little mind-boggling” that Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris is calling for Ireland to pursue research and “be part of the conversation” around lab-grown meats, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA).

ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the idea that Ireland should replace a “completely natural and scientifically proven sustainable system” of beef production with the “synthetic product of some corporate lab is very questionable”.

McCormack made his comments on Tuesday following an interview by Minister Harris with the Business Post in recent days.

Awareness needed

McCormack said: “Minister Harris must be aware that Ireland already produces comparatively low-carbon beef and is, in fact, one of the most sustainable beef producers on the planet.

“Frankly, if he isn’t already aware of that fact, then he should be.”

He said the idea that Ireland would help in the “dubious process” of developing cell-based meats is “bizarre and very, very concerning”.

Consumer choice

"Most consumers would prefer to entrust the provenance of their food to local family farms as opposed to faceless corporations," McCormack insisted.

He said such corporations seem to be “most eager to drive a move to synthetic meats”.

The ICMSA president described the cell-based meats as representing “a very unlikely alliance between the most extreme elements of the environmental movement and the most aggressive and powerful food corporations who have nothing in common except their joint desire to see the end of family farming.

“To hear an Irish Government minister seeming to endorse that ambition is as disappointing as it is concerning.”