GMO Food

Impossible Burger Maker Denounces Friends of the Earth Activists As 'Anti-Science Fundamentalists'

Fear mongering over ingredients derived from genetically modified yeast

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ImpossibleBurgerBailey
Ronald Bailey

Somewhat to my surprise as a dedicated carnivore, I enjoyed a delicious Impossible Burger for the first time last November at Farmers and Distillers in Washington, D.C. The burgers have the texture and mouth feel of a beef patty. They even had some delightful, off-the-grill crunchy charred bits. I have since happily munched a couple of more times more on these vegetarian burgers that bleed.

Produced by Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley start-up, the burgers are made of textured wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and leghemoglobin, the key ingredient. Leghemoglobin is an iron-containing molecule that occurs naturally in every plant and animal. It is the abundance of this heme in animal muscles that gives meat much of its distinctive deliciousness. The heme in Impossible Burgers is derived from soybeans and produced by fermenting yeast genetically enhanced to make it.

It is apparently the fact that the leghemoglobin in Impossible Burgers is produced by, gasp, genetically enhanced yeast that has outraged Friends of the Earth (FOE) activists. Various hemoglobin molecules are ubiquitous in nature, occurring in most organisms, including bacteria, protozoa, fungi, plants, and animals. Impossible Foods checked with numerous food safety experts, who agreed that leghemoglobin is generally recognized as safe (GRAS). The company has voluntarily filed a GRAS notice with the Food and Drug Administration summarizing the safety science behind that conclusion.

Without any significant evidence, FOE suggests that "animal replacement ingredients produced through genetic engineering" in products like the Impossible Burger may "pose unforeseen health risks." Impossible Foods Chief Communications Officer Rachel Konrad hits back hard: "The US wing of FOE is an anti-science fundamentalist organization that wants to eliminate genetic engineering at any cost, including the lives of people, the health of the planet, and even FOE's own credibility. This is an organization on the wrong side of history, doomed to irrelevance for failing to acknowledge and embrace reality."

That characterization of FOE sounds about right to me.

As I reported earlier:

Other than trying to placate vegetarians and vegans, why bother creating Impossible Burgers? Founder Patrick O. Brown says that the company is on a mission to make the global food system more sustainable. The company claims that compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

Assuming that Impossible Burgers and other future plant-based meat competitors catch on with consumers, they will be another happy example of how human ingenuity is continuing our withdrawal from nature. These may be good reasons for people to eat Impossible Burgers, but I will happily do it because I enjoy the taste.

Come to think of it, I may take my wife out to lunch over the weekend to see what she thinks of the Impossible Burger.

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  1. Without any significant evidence, FOE suggests that “animal replacement ingredients produced through genetic engineering” in products like the Impossible Burger may “pose unforeseen health risks.”

    Why would you need any evidence at all, let alone “significant” evidence, to back up the straightforward statement that something MAY pose unforeseen health risks That is true of literally everything. Eating a chocolate bar MAY cause unicorns to fly out of your butt. Prove me wrong.

    1. Tony probably has eaten chocolate bars, but I can assure you that unicorns are not what flies out of his butt.

      1. I can confirm that I ate chocolate bars, but unicorns haven’t flown out of my butt. Except for that one time I ate some spicy tacos right after taking some MDMA.

  2. FOE has always been dedicated to the extinction of the human race.

    1. “FOE”

      Don’t tell them they didn’t warn you

  3. Do these idiots not understand every major food crop is the result of genetic engineering? Most of them are some form of grass.

    1. And don’t even get started on cows and pigs.

  4. Reading FOE reports, or listening to FOE statements, or reading FOE posts online, may cause severe birth defects and extreme socialism. This is based on unknown research that may be released by some group at some point in the future.
    So beware!

    1. may “pose unforeseen health risks”

  5. Fee, Fi, FOE, fum,
    I smell the leghemoglobin,
    Of some irrational scum!

    1. Good evening Most Righteous Feelz.

      Are you a patron of Impossible Foods?

      Are you going to try an Impossible Burger?

      1. Is it “Righteous Feelz” or “Feelz Righteous”? I thought it was the latter, but most everybody uses the former.

        1. “Righteous Feelz” is how I describe my own inner state.
          “Feelz Righteous” is how I gently cast aspersions on others who have adopted minor variations in doctrine.

      2. Good Morning Sir Dude Sir!!!

        I’ll try an Impossible Burger if I stumble across one… I am a rube in the sticks so it is a bit unlikely…

        I am bi-righteous; I am both “Righteous Feelz” ***AND*** “Feelz Righteous”, w/regards to the below!!!

        Hear my righteous roar!!!!

  6. Impossible Foods Chief Communications Officer Rachel Konrad hits back hard: “The US wing of FOE is an anti-science fundamentalist organization that wants to eliminate genetic engineering at any cost, including the lives of people, the health of the planet, and even FOE’s own credibility. This is an organization on the wrong side of history, doomed to irrelevance for failing to acknowledge and embrace reality.”

    DAAAYUM!!!1!!!!!

    1. What did the five fingers say to the face?

  7. And once again you’ll note that there’s another company working hard to make grass taste like a dead animal, still zero companies trying to make a dead animal taste like tofu.

    1. working hard to make grass taste like a dead animal

      And touting its benefits on the premise that animal carcasses are hard to come by.

  8. Bailey can have my veggie burger…

  9. Although it is vegetarian, it’s flavor comes from an iron-centered product. They should advise their customers of that fact because some people with iron overload avoid meat for the iron content.

    1. No one cares.

  10. Our neocortex apparently evolved to accommodate the advantages of language and religion. Some of those advantages remain more relevant than others. The part about insisting on sacrifice may be linked to that religious orientation within our brains. People on the left, anyway, don’t seem to think it’s enough to solve a problem–not if the solution doesn’t also require sacrifice. That idea’s predominance across cultures and throughout history, certainly, could be explained as a function of our neocortex evolving to accommodate religious thinking.

    When Christians accuse atheists of being religious, this is what they’re talking about, consciously or otherwise. Yeah, they’re saying that atheists make assumptions in the face of uncertainty (AKA faith), too, but there’s more to it than that. Why do so many of us–atheist or otherwise–need to feel like we’re making sacrifices for others? Here’s one possible answer:

    https://tinyurl.com/ycl28rlo

    Why would vegans oppose something that replaces meat? Maybe they feel like if you’re not making a sacrifice, then your solution is empty. That someone might profit from an empty solution is worse–evil, even. They don’t see any solutions without sacrifice because sacrifice is the goal as much or more than the solutions. As long as they feel like they’re making a sacrifice (and other people can be made to sacrifice), who cares whether the problem is being solved?

    That’s religious thinking. It’s probably just how we’re wired.

    1. That’s a fascinating theory. I think we may be “hard wired” for a lot of the conclusions we make and how we make them. I remember Ayn Rand as especially abhorrent of sacrifice.

    2. In another Reason article, anthropologist Helen Fisher connected religiosity with a dominance of serotonin pathways. And I definitely see a connection between religion and sacrifice. That includes most people who say they’re “spiritual but not religious”. And most Marxists as well.

    3. “Why would vegans oppose something that replaces meat? Maybe they feel like if you’re not making a sacrifice, then your solution is empty. That someone might profit from an empty solution is worse–evil, even.”
      Why would health care professionals and tobacco nazis oppose vaping, something that replaces cigarettes? Why would global warming zealots oppose nuclear energy, something that replaces carbon emissions without creating abject poverty?
      “They don’t see any solutions without sacrifice because sacrifice is the goal as much or more than the solutions.”
      Yeah, I think you nailed it.

      1. Does sacrifice release dopamine or something? Sacrifice just sounds like pain to me, and I don’t like pain. Now, I do sacrifice, but excepting children it is still eventually to my benefit. But I gain no mood uplift or sense of accomplishment.

        I think the brain wiring concept has a ring of truth to it. Quick. Sacrifice some tax dollars on this study.

  11. These fucking idiots. Norman Borlaug won a Nobel Peace Prize because he created a modified drought resistant strain of wheat which has been credited with saving over a billion lives from starvation. These asshats won’t be satisfied unless we are all eating heirloom tomatoes and starving to death.

    1. These fucking idiots. Norman Borlaug won a Nobel Peace Prize because he created a modified drought resistant strain of wheat which has been credited with saving over a billion lives from starvation. These asshats won’t be satisfied unless we are all eating heirloom tomatoes and starvingstarve to death.

      Fixed it for you.

  12. The company claims that compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

    Again, do we have any external, reproduced, or even clearly defined numbers on that? Are we talking inputs into lbs. of ground beef from a whole cow vs. inputs into lbs. of impossible beef or cribbed numbers regarding inputs into lbs. of ground beef after more valuable cuts are taken vs. inputs into producing lbs. of textured wheat protein?

    Not that I think the impossible burger is exactly less efficient by any metric but, the whole argument presumes that I care deeply about decreasing land use, water use, and CO2 production for meat to begin with. And if I don’t have to stick my head up the bull’s ass to know the truth, then I don’t have to take the butcher’s word for it.

  13. That characterization of FOE sounds about right to me.

    Clearly, you’ve never read his comments.

    1. If only I could get my doomsday machine working, I’d show all of you.

  14. Somewhat to my surprise as a dedicated carnivore, I enjoyed a delicious Impossible Burger for the first time last November at Farmers and Distillers in Washington, D.C.

    Many times I’ll read the first paragraph of a post without reading the byline to see if I can guess the author. I got it right one sentence in.

    1. Yeah, he made a whole post about it back when it happened. Stop bragging that you read the actual articles. It doesn’t make you cool.

  15. Damn American farmers growing cheap food!

    “Feeney: Do you believe that food should cost more?
    Waters: I do feel like food should cost more, because we aren’t paying farmers a living wage. It has to cost more. Even to arrive at the right price for conventionally priced food we have to pay more. But if we want organic food, if we want people to really care about nourishment and to take care of the land, we have to pay more for our food. And every country in the world pays more for its food.”
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/the-daily
    -need/alice-waters-says-that-food-should-cost-
    more-but-be-free-to-school-children/4507/

    1. I feel like I should change my name again. Perhaps to “Everyone is Retards”.

    2. I swear a lot of these people use the word “nutrition” as something uncertain. Like, they use it as a gloss for saying it doesn’t have enough “love” in it.

      1. Wait, he said “nourishment” not “nutrition” which are similar, but in that case he is absolutely using it as a gloss for some vague feeling instead of anything concrete.

        Farmers don’t care enough about their food is what he’s getting at.

  16. This sounds a lot like the colllective apeshit public health nannies are taking over e-cigarettes. Fuck ’em

  17. Wow, a bar and grill two miles from here serves the Impossible Burger. Will have to try it out.

  18. Environmentalism is about middle class liberals feeling good about themselves, not actually helping the world, or god forbid, help starving people in 3rd world countries.

  19. Oh oh oh I hope they do bacon next.

    Then pork bellys.

  20. the burgers are made of textured wheat protein

    We collectively got over the whole gluten sensitivity fad just in time!

  21. Implausible Potato here waiting eagerly to try himself an Impossible Burger.

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