By Sayer Ji, Founder, GreenMedInfo
From White Castle to ‘Organic’ Burger Joints like Bareburger, a bloody GMO burger is quickly gaining mass adoption. But is it as safe, healthy, and good for the planet as they claim?
It’s no surprise that after $400 million dollars of funding, including contributions by notoriously pro-GMO power brokers like Bill Gates,1 that Silicon valley startup Impossible Foods genetically modified ‘ground beef analogue product’ has gained mainstream market penetrance in over 400 White Castle burger joints throughout the U.S this month.2 This is in addition to its already successful placement in Applebee’s, Bareburger, and Whalburgers, and other independent restaurants throughout the country.
We think Impossible Burger is aptly named, owing to the fact that it is impossible to prove a genetically modified product’s safety to humans without human studies. Yet, in July 2018, the FDA granted the company’s product a GRAS status (Generally Accepted As Safe), effectively exempting it from human safety studies.
The Impossible Burger’s claim to fame as a meat substitute is the use of a genetically modified soy-derived form of a protein called heme that gives meat its distinctive blood-like color and taste. Known as legume hemoglobin or leghemoglobin, this plant form of heme is found naturally in the root system of soy plants in exceedingly small quantities. It has been estimated that it would take one acre of soybeans to yield just a kilogram (2.2 lbs) of soy leghemogrlobin.3
Considering there is no precedent for exposure in the human diet for such massive amounts of this protein — and certainly not from a lab-grown GMO — it’s approval as a GRAS substance is highly concerning. Indeed, back in 2015, the FDA pushed back at the suggestion that it was a safe protein already found in traditional diets, a FOIA request revealed. That FOIA request also documented the FDA’s concern over Impossible Foods admitting that up to a quarter of it’s “heme” ingredient was composed of 46 “unexpected” additional proteins (none of which were assessed for safety), as revealed by an ETC article titled, “Bleeding” veggie burger has “no basis in safety,” according to the FDA.” These proteins represent possible novel new antigens and could cause significant immjune reactions. For instance, one man posted to Twitter that he experienced an anaphylactic reaction 20 minutes after eating an Impossible Burger at a Bareburger, as reported on LivingMaxwell.com:
As is the case with so many other genetically modified foods that have not been studied for safety in humans, the FDA rubber stamps these product anyway. Take a look at the recently approved RNA interference corn the EPA quietly rubber stamped earlier this year. Truth be told, millions of hapless consumers will participate in the first clinical safety trial, and like so many irresponsibly marketed products and drugs, post-marketing surveillance of adverse effects will be the only safeguard to protect consumers and often long after the damage has been done. The problem with GMO engineering of food is not simply the presence or absence of allergenic proteins, nor agrochemicals, as many on both sides of the debate argue; rather, since food is a kind of gene-regulatory information, it can have far greater affect on our health and disease risk than could ever be expected when we focus on it simply as a source of calories and biological building blocks. [Learn more: The Dark and Light Side of Food As Information (Dietary RNAs Directly Impact Gene Expression]
So what’s in an Impossible Burger?
Here’s the ingredient list:
Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (soy), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Thiamin(Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.
Consider that wheat protein is one of the most well-established allergens that exist in the Western diet today, containing not one, but over 23,000 different potentially problematic proteins. We’ve collected a vast array of data on the adverse effects associated with its consumption, and have written extensively about how this food has a dark side that has a deep history stretching all the way back to Roman times when it was a critical tool in cultural/biological imperialism. There is also growing awareness that Roundup herbicide, which is often used in wheat production as a pre-harvest desiccant, contaminates thousands of consumer products, amplifying its allergenicity and toxicity. Potato is also EPA-approved for Roundup herbicide dessicant treatment. The soy protein isolate in this formula is also genetically modified, making this one of the least natural and least healthy products on the market today.
The Impossible Burger is a great example of how the pro-GMO agenda has shifted it’s marketing message from “saving the world from hunger” to a “save the planet through sustainability.”
Veganism and so-called plant-based diets have become increasingly trendy expressions of an over-simplification of complex environmental and ethical issues that face humankind today. By proclaiming wheat, soy, and lab-grown GM fungal proteins, as “sustainable” and “planet saving,” while ignoring the obvious devastation that modern monoculturing and GM farming methods have exacted upon the arable surface of the planet (which incidentally displaces and kills billions of animals each year), Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods and it’s Impossible Burger are just another example of an intrinsically unhealthy food being marketed as healthy and sustainable to the masses without any of the safety precautions necessary to represent the interests of the consumer.
Note: ‘Organic’ food chain Bareburger should remove Impossible Burger from its menu, or at least refrain from marketing this GMO product alongside hashtags like #organic and #nongmo, as evidenced by their Instagram post below. Read the article on Grub Street exposing their hypocrisy here.
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