You could start by asking yourself why a parliamentary group decides to abstain in a vote. Usually, the instrument of abstention is used because one does not fully agree with a provision or the methods of its presentation but there is not complete opposition to the matter covered by the law. Let’s take it then the case of cultured meat. Various members of the Democratic Party denounce the ban as a big hoax, propaganda, a purely ideological battle. They even decide to vote in favor of the constitutional preliminary ruling presented by +Europa MP Riccardo Magi. But then, in the end, they don’t vote against, but abstain. Both in the Senate and in the House. And so do the centrists of Carlo Calenda and Matteo Renzi. Among the Democrats, only a few exceptions for the no to the ban: Enzo Amendola, Bruno Tabacci, Alessandro Zan and senator for life Elena Cattaneo. But does it make sense to abstain on a measure that is considered absurd and even unconstitutional?
Let’s try to understand the reason for this apparent and sensational contradiction between the thoughts and the vote expressed. Several dem parliamentarians, under anonymity, respond to us with one word: Coldiretti. That is, it would have been the lobbying pressure of this powerful trade organization that influenced the vote. Coldiretti represents farmers. Milano Finanza has calculated that, with its 340 thousand registered companies (35 percent of those registered by the Chamber of Commerce, and 41 percent of cultivated land), it brings home around 35 million euros a year (the registration costs 100 euros). Already a Christian Democratic fiefdom, in recent years, with its sovereignist battles and for Made in Italy (anti Ceta and GMO) it has been very close to the League, and then blatantly supported Fratelli d’Italia and the minister Francesco Lollobrigida (so much so that she would have suggested the name of the ministry). But, writes Andrea Deugeni in Milano Finanza, Coldiretti directs its lobbying force towards all parties and policy makers. An excessive bipartisan, financial, technical, attractive and media power. Also the result of the work and relationships of the very active and long-standing general secretary, Vincenzo Gesmundo. Sixty-eight years old, with a degree in philosophy, he started out as a social democrat, having joined Coldiretti way back in 1981 and as an official he climbed the ranks with salaries of 2 million euros (in 2014).
The independent website Il Fatto Alimentare wrote in 2017: The ability to indoctrinate journalists and professionals, thanks to 50-60 monthly press releases addressed to selected groups of information operators, is incredible. Coldiretti plays a role on the communication table that is not comparable to that of other players. And the Democratic Party? There are essentially two parties on this issue (as on many others). On the one hand there is the Democratic Party which defends science and research, which refuses to bend progress to partisan interests and which considers certain slogans, Frankenstein on the plate, as an aberrant manifestation of propaganda against the truth, to protect specific interests of sector. Then there is a Democratic Party that is close to the territory and to the stakeholders, who are also the bearers of votes. Thus, it is explained that the Coldiretti document was signed by the four governors of the Democratic Party, Stefano Bonaccini in the lead (the others are Giani, Emiliano and De Luca).
Mayors such as Antonio Decaro and Dario Nardella are also in favor. Why are they with Coldiretti against cultured meat? Because they defend not so much the ideology of Made in Italy as the economy that revolves around Chianina, buffalo and fassona. Among the dems very close to Coldiretti is also Paolo De Castro, former Minister of Agriculture and European Parliamentarian. Just read what he said in April 2023: Synthetic meat? The government is right to defend agriculture It seems a clear case where rational arguments and principles clash heavily with interests and the status quo. Let’s be clear, there would be nothing wrong if the Democratic Party convincingly argued that cultured (or synthetic, as they called it with an ideological lexical distortion) meat was harmful or dangerous and wanted to ban it (even if it goes against scientific evidence). But this is not the case in most cases.
So why abstain? According to Benedetto Della Vedova, the object of an attack by the president of Coldiretti Ettore Prandini, it is precisely the organization that has the upper hand: The Democratic Party is subjected to the lobby of Coldiretti, which has now assumed enormous power, with the money it manages and the subsidies it receives. A pressure that affects everyone. There are former ministers like De Girolamo, who were seen wearing the yellow vest. In the Democratic Party, evidently, they will have thought: it’s better not to argue with Coldiretti, you never know. And then the press also does its part: agricultural businesses have also entered the capital of Truth, where one day if not, Prandini insults us. Della Vedova is referring to the purchase of 25 percent of the newspaper La Verit by Federico Vecchioni, CEO of BF Spa, one of the giants of Italian agribusiness. Given that clear public declarations are lacking on the topic, we tried to ask the Dems (Camilla Laureti, who has responsibility for agricultural policies in the Schlein secretariat, who was called all day, chose not to answer, despite having been warned. Others still are denied).
An exponent who did not want to expose himself, explains that the abstention arises from the need not to alienate the consensus of the agricultural world. Alessandro Alfieri says: I didn’t follow the provision much, I was on other dossiers. But I know that some deputies were more sensitive to Coldiretti’s reasons and therefore a middle path was chosen. Silvio Franceschelli, senator and mayor of Montalcino, is more talkative. They also tell us this because his father was general director of the Tuscan Coldiretti. The allusion irritates him: Leave my father alone, who retired in ’94. I have no cards in my pocket and I have never been pressured. OK, can you explain to us why you abstained? We wanted to highlight above all the fact that the search is limited. Ok, but should cultured meat be banned or not? This is not the point. Well, yes, that’s exactly the point: If you want to start a controversy you can, but here the topic is broader and concerns, for example, labelling.
Fine, but before deciding on labeling, you have to decide whether it’s right to produce, sell and consume cultured meat, right? What do you think about that? I’m neither for nor against, the topic is much broader. And then remember that I am a mayor of Made in Italy. True, because Franceschelli, former president of the province of Siena, mayor of Montalcino, renowned for its wild boar sausage and many other cured meats and cheeses. And so we get back to the point. Bruno Tabacci was elected in the Democratic Party but has a great history behind him, as well as a present as an independent. he was one of the few to vote against the ban: Abstention? What do you want me to tell you, I raise my hands, I’m disconsolate. We think we are with agriculture but we damage it. If the right goes after corporations, beach resorts, taxi drivers, farmers, the others must not do the same. Large organizations have always existed. Coldiretti was a power even at the time of the DC. But then politics led the dance, now residual. The final synthesis was done by the DC, today it is done by Coldiretti.
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Nov 21, 2023
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