By Pat Thomas
Throughout the U.S., major food brands are trying to get rid of GMO ingredients — not necessarily for the right reasons, but because nearly half of consumers say they avoid them in their food, primarily for health reasons.
But the CEO of Impossible Foods, purveyor of the Impossible Burger, is bucking that trend.
- Impossible Burger and the Road to Consumer Distrust - EcoWatch ›
- What Is the Impossible Burger, and Is It Healthy? - EcoWatch ›
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Promotion of GMO-Derived Impossible Burger at World’s Largest Natural Food Trade Show Denounced as Deceptive
Natural food industry representatives and consumer advocates denounced Impossible Foods, maker of the GMO-derived Impossible Burger, for promoting their product at Natural Products Expo West, saying they were engaging in deceptive marketing.
GMO Controversy<p>The Impossible Burger is one of several new plant-based — or in this case lab-created — meat products that provide the look and taste of meat while claiming to be more environmentally friendly than industrial meat production. The product is served in several thousand restaurants in the U.S., including chains like White Castle and The Cheesecake Factory (where it is falsely described as "natural" on the menu). <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/burger-king-to-trial-impossible-meatless-whopper-in-59-stores-2633500660.html" target="_self">Burger King</a> recently announced it would test market the Impossible Burger in 60 restaurants in St. Louis.</p><p>But the Impossible Burger has been <a href="https://www.gmoscience.org/impossible-burger-boon-risk-health-environment/" target="_blank">controversial</a> because it is made using genetic engineering. The burger's key ingredient is called heme, which is produced using a genetically engineered yeast that is fermented and multiplied. The GMO-derived heme gives the Impossible Burger its meat-like taste and red blood-like color. </p><p>In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/08/business/impossible-burger-food-meat.html" target="_blank">raised questions about the safety of the engineered heme</a> after Impossible Foods applied for GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. Despite FDA's concerns, Impossible Foods put its GMO burger on the market for public consumption in 2016 anyway. Impossible Foods later submitted results from short-term rat feeding studies to the FDA and, last year, the agency said that it had no more questions about heme's safety.</p>
No Transparency About Impossible Burger's GMO Ingredient<p>Impossible Foods plans to introduce a retail version of the Impossible Burger this year, which is why they exhibited at Natural Products Expo West, according to Nick Halla, the company's chief strategy officer. He said that people at the show had been very receptive to the Impossible Burger.</p><p>But, Natural Products Expo West attendees didn't know they were eating a GMO product. Impossible Foods' exhibit booth and literature made no mention that the Impossible Burger's key ingredient, heme, is genetically engineered.</p><p>When asked why they weren't transparent about the burger being GMO, Halla said the recipe cards being given out wasn't appropriate literature for describing the genetic engineering process. But, a more detailed brochure at the booth also said nothing about GMO heme, only describing it as "magic ingredient found in all living things." Halla said Impossible Foods is transparent about its use of genetic engineering on its website.</p><p>But Lampe said Impossible Foods lack of transparency at Natural Products Expo West was unethical. "Impossible Foods is legally allowed to not provide that information to consumers. Legal? Yes. Responsible and ethical? I don't think so," Lampe commented.</p>
GMO Products Allowed at Natural Products Expo West if They Don't Make "Natural" Claims<p>So, how did a GMO food company get into the world's biggest natural food trade show? According to the <a href="https://www.newhope.com/standards?ID=1067799" target="_blank">standards for exhibitors</a> at Natural Products Expo West, a company can promote foods with GMO ingredients as long as they don't claim their products are natural.</p><p>"We don't rule out GMOs yet, because if we did we could have Natural Products Expo in my child's school gymnasium (because genetically engineered ingredients are so pervasive in the food supply)," said Michelle Zerbib, standards director at <a href="https://www.newhope.com/" target="_blank">New Hope Network</a>, which hosts Natural Products Expo West. "What we do with GMO products is that we don't allow them to market as natural, 100 percent natural or any natural claims," she said. <br></p><p>New Hope's ingredients standard for exhibitors requires the use of non-GMO yeast but only as a flavor enhancer. Impossible Foods uses a GMO yeast to make the Impossible Burger's key ingredient.</p><p>"There's a standard for (non-GMO) yeast but that's according to flavoring, not the product itself," Zerbib said.</p><p>Zerbib also admitted that New Hope Network doesn't have the staff or time to closely inspect each exhibitor's ingredients. "We just don't have the resources to do that," she said.</p><p>Lampe said it is difficult for New Hope to keep up with the growing number of products made using new genetic engineering technologies.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of synbio ingredients and products already in the marketplace in foods and dietary supplements, and trying to determine show acceptance in light of the rapidly changing marketplace, with no mandated federal labeling for the new classes of GMO products and no testing protocols in place, is not an enviable task for the New Hope standards folks," Lampe said.</p>
"This is Not Clean Food"<p>Could other companies that sell GMO products like the non-browning Arctic Apple or GMO salmon also exhibit at Natural Products Expo West if they don't make natural claims? Yes, said Zerbib.</p><p>But she also said it may be time for New Hope Network to look at revising their ingredient standard as new GMO products come to market.</p><p>"We probably need to revisit it maybe take another look because there have been a lot of different technologies that have come out since we incorporated our ingredients standard in 2009," she added.</p><p>Alan Lewis, director of government affairs and food and agriculture policy for <a href="https://www.naturalgrocers.com/" target="_blank">Natural Grocers</a>, said the natural food community needs to take a strong stand against new GMO products like the Impossible Burger.</p><p>"If we are going to apply the cautionary principle to every other suspect food ingredient, then certainly synthetic heme, grown in genetically modified cultures, qualifies for scrutiny. Novel molecules and unknown ingredients have never been embraced in natural food. What are we thinking? This is not clean food," said Lewis.</p>
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By Ana Santos Rutschman
The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.
Ocean pout from Newfoundland, Canada
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By Jillian Mackenzie
Spraying chemicals in the yard is a tempting shortcut for many a home gardener looking to protect a tasty crop or a bed of flowers. But weed killers aren't necessary, and they may be linked to health risks.
Embrace a Shaggy Lawn.<p>Want to make your weekend chores a little less burdensome? Learn to appreciate longer grass. Mow less frequently, and with your mower on the highest setting — at least two inches, said <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass" target="_blank">Jennifer Sass</a>, a senior scientist with NRDC's Health program. (Sass sometimes lets hers grow even longer, with benign neglect.) "A longer lawn will crowd out weeds," she said, since the taller blades of grass <a href="https://homeguides.sfgate.com/control-kill-weeds-mowing-52579.html" target="_blank">block the light</a> weeds need to grow. "It will also ensure that you don't harm the clover, which attracts pollinators. Longer grass also holds soil moisture better and can even reseed itself."</p>
Make Peace with (Some) Weeds.<p>Along with a little benign neglect, Sass doled out some tough love: "Get used to how your lawn looks with weeds," she said. "A lawn that's dotted with some clover and dandelions is a safe, nontoxic place for pets and people to play." In addition to providing some nourishment for the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/8-ways-attract-bees-and-butterflies" target="_blank">pollinators we all depend on</a>, some of the most common and vexing weeds can have upsides. "Even dandelions are quite beneficial," said <a href="http://www.barbarapleasant.com/" target="_blank">Barbara Pleasant</a>, an expert on organic gardening and author of <em>Homegrown Pantry. </em>"They can have roots 18 inches deep that act as biodrills" to loosen compacted soil.</p>
Try Hand-to-Hand Combat.<p>If weeds are stealing too many nutrients from your lawn, vegetable garden or flower bed, start by hand-picking them. You don't need to dig into the dirt; just lop them off at the surface, Pleasant said. You'll need to be more aggressive if you find yourself with an invasive species issue — as when a plant that's not native to your area starts to dominate the landscape, with no natural control on its growth. Pull those plants out by the root, but don't toss them into your compost pile if you plan to sprinkle that mix back onto your lawn.</p><p>Bill Hlubik, a professor of agriculture and natural resources at Rutgers University, recommends chopping the invasive plants up into tiny bits with gardening shears so they don't reroot or germinate. Sass said she leaves them on a paved pathway to fully dry up in the sun before throwing them into her yard waste bin for curbside pickup. Either method should do the trick.</p>
Spread Some Mulch.<p>Shovel mulch on vegetable or flower beds. The extra layer not only helps the soil retain moisture but also blocks the sunlight that weeds need to start sprouting. "Mulches also look better than bare ground, and any mulch made of natural materials will improve soil as it rots," said Pleasant. "Grass clippings are great when applied in thin layers, especially in veggie beds." Pleasant likes to place a layer of damp newspapers under the clippings for even more light-blocking weed prevention. As for flower beds, she said, they "are all about looks, so there, you want to use a long-lasting woody mulch like wood chips, spread two to three inches deep. Any weeds that manage to establish themselves are easy to pull out, and the wood chips give beds a tailored look while maintaining soil moisture."</p>
Carpet the Ground with Cover Plants.<p>Ground cover plants will also choke out weeds, and they're especially great "for areas where grass, flowers, or veggies won't grow because of summer shade [or] shallow roots from big trees, or [on] slopes that are difficult to mow," said Pleasant. But ground cover plants are picky — they'll only grow if you find just the right plant for the right site, and they will take a few years to fill in properly. Some flourish in shade, others need full sun; gardeners working in hot climates should consider planting drought-tolerant varieties, such as <a href="https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/perennial/sedum/" target="_blank">a creeping sedum</a>. The commonly used <a href="https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/perennial/betony/" target="_blank">lamb's ear</a> may even help you repel another garden nuisance: deer. In addition to these animals finding the plant distasteful, "it's attractive, a draw for butterflies and hummingbirds, self-propagating, and needs almost no care," Sass said. "Make that the front border of your garden."</p><p>"Local nurseries can advise you on the best ground covers for your area, but the best way to explore possibilities is to look in other people's yards," Pleasant said, and see what's thriving there. Seeking out local native ferns may be a good place to start.</p>
Get Goats! (Stay with Us Here ...)<p>Perhaps the most adorable nontoxic weed solution, goats will happily munch your weeds away — and there are companies that <a href="https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/alternatives/factsheets/Least%20toxic%20control%20of%20weeds.pdf" target="_blank">rent the animals out</a> for just that purpose. Goats' least favorite food is grass, so they will eat everything else first. They're otherwise not too selective, so you need to protect anything you don't want them to chomp. Of course, renting a herd is practical only if you have a lot of land or, said Sass, "if you have poison ivy, kudzu, and other noxious weeds."</p>
If You Must Spray, Use Natural Products.<p>Skip the herbicides. <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-would-monsanto-bayer-merger-really-grow" target="_blank">Glyphosate</a> (better known as Roundup) is the most commonly used one — primarily a tool of farmers growing genetically engineered crops of corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton but available for home use as well. Recent studies confirm it <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass/atsdr-report-confirms-glyphosate-cancer-risks" target="_blank">carries a risk of cancer</a> and may be linked to other adverse health effects on reproduction, child development, and internal organs.</p><p>Instead, Sass recommended applying vinegar, which can be effective in eradicating <a href="https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/06/lawn-care-without-the-chemicals/index.htm" target="_blank">dandelions, kudzu or fig buttercups</a><a href="https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/06/lawn-care-without-the-chemicals/index.htm" target="_blank">.</a> Some <a href="https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/planting-and-maintenance/make-your-own-natural-weed-killer" target="_blank">DIY weed-killing recipes</a> contain regular household vinegar, others the much stronger horticulture vinegar. If you're using the latter, we recommend wearing heavy-duty gloves and goggles due to potential skin and eye irritation. (And always follow the safety instructions on the label.) Pleasant notes that vinegar works best on young weeds and may damage nearby plants, so spray precisely — or try her preferred weed killer, plain old boiling water.</p>
Of all the genetic engineers who have renounced the technology—Arpad Pusztai, Belinda Martineau, Thierry Vrain and John Fagan, among others—because of its shortsighted approach and ability to produce unintended and potentially toxic consequences, Caius Rommens' story may be the most compelling.
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By Jessica Corbett
The Trump administration has lifted a ban on importing genetically engineered or GE salmon, which critics have long called "Frankenfish," in a move that consumer advocates charge "runs counter to sound science and market demand."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the decision on Friday, more than three years after approving GE salmon as the first biotech animal authorized for commercial sale and consumption in the U.S.
By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
The Impossible Burger is a plant-based alternative to traditional meat-based burgers. It's said to mimic the flavor, aroma, and texture of beef.
What is the Impossible Burger?<p>The Impossible Burger was created by Impossible Foods, a company founded by Patrick O. Brown in 2011.</p><p>Brown is a scientist and professor emeritus at Stanford University in California. He holds a medical degree and a Ph.D. and has worked as a research scientist for many years.</p><p>Through conferences, Brown tried raising awareness about how using animals for food harms the environment. However, this had little impact, so he created a business that produced plant-based alternatives to popular animal products.</p><p>Its signature product — the Impossible Burger — aims to perfectly mimic the taste of beef.</p><p><strong>Impossible Burger Ingredients</strong></p><p>Using carefully selected ingredients, Impossible Foods created a plant-based burger that some say perfectly resembles the taste, aroma, and texture of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/beef" target="_blank">beef</a>.</p><p>The original Impossible Burger contains the following ingredients:</p><p>Water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, 2% or less of leghemoglobin (soy), yeast extract, salt, konjac gum, xanthan gum, soy protein isolate, vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamine (vitamin B1), zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamin B12.</p><p>In 2019, the company introduced a new recipe featuring the following changes:</p><ul> <li>uses <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/soy-protein-good-or-bad" target="_blank">soy protein</a> instead of wheat protein, making it gluten-free</li><li></li><li>contains a plant-based culinary binder called methylcellulose to improve texture</li></ul><ul><li>replaced a portion of the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil" target="_blank">coconut oil</a> with sunflower oil to reduce saturated fat content</li></ul><p>Heme, or soy leghemoglobin, is the ingredient said to set the Impossible Burger apart from other plant-based burgers. It adds to the flavor and color of the burger and makes it "bleed" like a beef burger does when cut.</p><p>It's also perhaps the most controversial ingredient in the Impossible Burger.</p><p>Unlike the heme found in beef, the heme in the Impossible Burger is genetically engineered by adding soy protein to genetically engineered yeast (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5813221/" target="_blank">1</a>).</p><p>Though Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some raise concern about its potential health effects (<a href="https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/NoticeInventory/ucm588603.pdf" target="_blank">2</a>).</p><p>Currently, the Impossible Burger is only available at certain restaurants and fast food establishments in the United States, Hong Kong, and Macau. The company also plans to sell the Impossible Burger in U.S. grocery stores from 2019.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>The Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger option said to replicate the flavor, texture, and aroma of beef.</p>
Impossible Burger Nutrition<p>There are nutritional differences between the Impossible Burger and beef-based burgers.</p><p>The following chart compares a 113-gram serving of the Impossible burger to an equal serving of a 90%-lean beef burger (<a target="_blank" href="https://faq.impossiblefoods.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018939274-What-are-the-nutrition-facts-">3</a>, <a href="https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list" target="_blank">4</a>).</p>
Impossible Burger Benefits<p>Impossible Burgers offer several health benefits.</p><p><strong>High in Important Nutrients</strong></p><p>The Impossible Burger contains an impressive amount of nutrients, as vitamins and minerals like iron, thiamine, zinc, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 are added during processing.</p><p>Some of these nutrients, such as vitamin B12, iron, and zinc, are especially important for those following <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/plant-based-diet-guide" target="_blank">plant-based diets</a>, including vegans and vegetarians.</p><p>Vegans and vegetarians are at a greater risk of developing <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-common-nutrient-deficiencies" target="_blank">deficiencies</a> in these nutrients than people who consume animal products (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598028/" target="_blank">5</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793309/" target="_blank">6</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188422/" target="_blank">7</a>).</p><p>What really sets the Impossible Burger apart from other vegan and vegetarian foods enriched with iron is that it provides heme iron. Heme iron is better absorbed by your body than the non-heme iron you get from plant foods.</p><p>Moreover, soy leghemoglobin has been shown to have an equivalent bioavailability to the iron found in meat, making it a potentially important source of highly absorbable iron for those who don't consume animal products (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16478282" target="_blank">8</a>).</p><p>The iron in the Impossible Burger has been approved by the FDA for use in food, although it's long-term safety is still unknown.</p><p><strong>Suitable for Plant-Based Diets</strong></p><p>The Impossible Burger is a good choice if you enjoy the taste of beef burgers but want to limit your intake of animal products.</p><p>In addition to being suitable for both <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegetarian-diet-plan" target="_blank">vegetarian</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-guide" target="_blank">vegan</a> diets, it contains nutrients that many plant-based diets lack, such as vitamin B12 and heme iron.</p><p>Given that Impossible Burgers are offered at certain restaurants and fast food establishments, it's a tasty and easy, on-the-go meal choice for those following plant-based diets.</p><p><strong>May Be a More Environmentally-Friendly Choice</strong></p><p>The Impossible Burger website claims that producing this plant-based burger uses roughly 75% less water, generates 87% fewer greenhouse gasses, and requires 95% less land than producing conventional ground beef from cows (<a href="https://impossiblefoods.com/if-pr/fda-no-questions-letter/" target="_blank">9</a>).</p><p>Indeed, research shows that cattle farming is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions in the livestock industry (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30119602" target="_blank">10</a>).</p><p>Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming contribute to global warming. This leads many climate experts to recommend that people eat a more plant-based diet in order to mitigate pressure on the environment (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29105912" target="_blank">11</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6182055/" target="_blank">12</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>The Impossible Burger is an environmentally-friendly food packed with nutrients that vegan and vegetarian diets often lack, such as iron and vitamin B12.</p>
Impossible Burger Precautions<p>Although the Impossible Burger offers some benefits, there are some downsides to consider as well.</p><p><strong>Concerns Over Plant-Based Heme</strong></p><p>Although soy leghemoglobin — the heme used in Impossible Burgers — was deemed GRAS by the FDA, its long-term safety is still unknown.</p><p>Current studies on soy leghemoglobin have only been conducted in animals and over short periods.</p><p>For example, a 28-day study in rats found that those fed the equivalent of 750 mg/kg per day of soy leghemoglobin, which is over 100 times greater than the 90th percentile estimated daily intake in humans, had no adverse effects (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5956568/" target="_blank">13</a>).</p><p>However, it's currently unknown whether it's safe for humans to eat this man-made compound over longer periods.</p><p><strong>Contains Potentially Allergenic Ingredients</strong></p><p>The original Impossible Burger recipe contains wheat and soy, both of which are common food allergens.</p><p>In fact, 1% of the world's population has celiac disease, which is an immune reaction to gluten-containing grains.</p><p>What's more, it's thought that 0.5–13% of the general population has non-celiac <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-sensitivity-is-real" target="_blank">gluten sensitivity</a> — an intolerance to gluten that results in unpleasant symptoms like headache and intestinal issues (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6182669/" target="_blank">14</a>).</p><p>While the new Impossible Burger recipe has swapped gluten-containing wheat protein for soy protein, the burger still contains ingredients that some people can't tolerate.</p><p>For example, an allergy to soy, while less common than an allergy to milk or wheat, is considered one of the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-food-allergies" target="_blank">eight most common food allergens</a> for both adults and children (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312744/" target="_blank">15</a>).</p><p><strong>Concerns Over GMOs</strong></p><p>Impossible Foods does not hide the fact that the Impossible Burger contains genetically modified (GMO) ingredients like soy leghemoglobin and soy protein.</p><p>Most scientists agree that GMO foods are safe. However, some are concerned about the use of GMO crops that are resistant to commonly used herbicides like glyphosate and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424534/" target="_blank">16</a>).</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/roundup-glyphosate-and-health" target="_blank">Glyphosate</a> has been linked to potentially harmful effects on humans, plants, and animals, leading many experts to demand further research on the possible hazards of this herbicide to both humans and the environment (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29117584" target="_blank">17,</a> <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29884897" target="_blank">18</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/areas/glyphosate/index.html">19</a>).</p><p>For example, glyphosate has been shown to harm hormonal function, and some studies have linked it to certain cancers like leukemia (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060078" target="_blank">20</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29136183" target="_blank">21</a>).</p><p>Additionally, some studies have linked exposure to 2,4-D with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025008/" target="_blank">22</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>There are several downsides to the Impossible Burger, including its content of potentially allergenic ingredients and the use of GMO ingredients like soy leghemoglobin.</p>
Is the Impossible Burger Healthy?<p>If taste and convenience are your only concerns, the Impossible Burger may be a good choice. However, if you want to eat a more nutritious plant-based burger, consider a more whole-food-based veggie burger.</p><p><strong>There Are Healthier Plant-Based Burger Options</strong></p><p>The Impossible Burger contains mostly soy or wheat protein, as well as added preservatives, salt, flavorings, and fillers to enhance its taste, shelf life, and texture.</p><p>Although these ingredients are considered natural, they aren't necessary for a healthy diet, and some people prefer to avoid them.</p><p>Another downside to the Impossible Burger is that any restaurant can put their own spin on it, meaning that other ingredients — aside from those listed on the official website — may be present in the final food product.</p><p>Other veggie burgers on the market usually contain similar ingredients. However, some contain more whole-food-based ingredients like lentils, quinoa, hemp, and black beans.</p><p>Fortunately, you can make healthier and more whole-food-based veggie burgers at home. Delicious plant- and nutrient-dense burger recipes can be found online and are often based on plant proteins like beans, grains, and nuts.</p><p>Plus, many recipes pack in fresh vegetables like sweet potato, onions, cauliflower, leafy greens, and spices to further elevate the nutritional benefits of the final dish.</p><p>The heme iron in the Impossible Burger is more bioavailable than non-heme iron in <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/iron-rich-plant-foods" target="_blank">plant foods</a>.</p><p>Luckily, if you eat a plant-based diet, you can instead meet your iron needs by eating nutrient-dense whole foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. Alternatively, you can take iron supplements.</p><p>Additionally, pairing plant-based iron sources with foods rich in vitamin C, as well as soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains and legumes before eating them, are simple ways to naturally enhance the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/increase-iron-absorption" target="_blank">absorption of non-heme iron</a> (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230157/" target="_blank">23</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/" target="_blank">24</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>While the Impossible Burger may be a good option for vegans and vegetarians on the go, you can make healthier plant-based burgers at home.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>The Impossible Burger has made headlines for its impressive similarity to beef-based burgers.</p><p>It boasts high protein, vitamin, and mineral contents, including a genetically engineered, plant-based source of heme iron known as soy leghemoglobin.</p><p>However, there are concerns about some of its ingredients. These include soy hemoglobin and potentially allergenic protein sources like gluten and soy.</p><p>Although the Impossible Burger may be a tasty and convenient option on the go, you can make more nutritious plant-based burgers from whole-food ingredients at home.</p>
By Mark R. O'Brian
People eat animals that eat plants. If we just eliminate that middle step and eat plants directly, we would diminish our carbon footprint, decrease agricultural land usage, eliminate health risks associated with red meat and alleviate ethical concerns over animal welfare. For many of us, the major hurdle to executing this plan is that meat tastes good. Really good. By contrast, a veggie burger tastes like, well, a veggie burger. It does not satisfy the craving because it does not look, smell or taste like beef. It does not bleed like beef.
What on Earth Is Leghemoglobin?<p>The Impossible Burger includes an ingredient from soybeans called leghemoglobin, which is a protein that is chemically bound to a non-protein molecule called heme that gives leghemoglobin <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC177968/" target="_blank">its blood red color</a>. In fact, a heme — an iron-containing molecule — is what gives blood and red meat their color. Leghemoglobin is evolutionarily related to animal myoglobin found in muscle and hemoglobin in blood, and serves to regulate oxygen supply to cells.</p><p>Heme gives the Impossible Burger the appearance, cooking aroma and taste of beef. I recruited a scientific colleague in St. Louis to try out the Impossible Whopper, and he could not distinguish it from its meaty counterpart. Although he was quick to qualify this by noting all of the other stuff on the Whopper may mask any differences.</p><p>So, why aren't soybean plants red? Leghemoglobin is found in many legumes, hence its name and is highly abundant within specialized structures on the roots called nodules. If you cut open a nodule with your thumbnail, you will see that it is <a href="https://www.agronomy.org/science-news/fixing-soybeans-need-nitrogen" target="_blank">very red due to leghemoglobin</a>. The soybean nodule forms as a response to its interaction with the symbiotic bacterium <em>Bradyrhizobium japonicum</em>.</p><p>I suspect that Impossible Foods depicts a soybean without nodules on their <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com/heme" target="_blank">website</a> because people tend to be creeped out by bacteria even though <em>Bradyrhizobium</em> is beneficial.</p><p><a href="https://medicine.buffalo.edu/faculty/profile.html?ubit=mrobrian" target="_blank">My research group's</a> interest in the symbiotic relationship between the soybean and its bacterial sidekick <em>Bradyrhizobium japonicum</em> is motivated by the goal of reducing humanity's carbon footprint, but not by creating palatable veggie burgers.</p><p>The bacteria within root nodules take nitrogen from the air and convert it to a nutrient form that the plant can use for growth and sustenance – a process called nitrogen fixation. The symbiosis lessens the reliance on chemical nitrogen fertilizers, which consume a lot of fossil fuel energy to manufacture, and which also pollute the water supply.</p><p>Some research groups are interested in extending the symbiosis <a href="https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01055-16" target="_blank">by genetically engineering crops such as corn and wheat</a> so that they can reap the benefits of nitrogen fixation, which only some plants, including legumes, can do now.</p><p>I am pleasantly surprised and a little amused that esoteric terms of my vocation such as heme and leghemoglobin have found their way into the public lexicon and on the wrapper of a fast-food sandwich.</p>
Is Leghemoglobin Vegan? A Non-GMO? Organic?<p>Leghemoglobin is the ingredient that defines the Impossible Burger, but it is also the additive most closely scrutinized by those seeking assurances of it being organic, non-GMO or vegan.</p><p>The leghemoglobin used in the burgers comes from a genetically engineered yeast that harbors the DNA instructions from the soybean plant to manufacture the protein. Adding the soybean gene into the yeast then makes it a GMO. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration agrees with the "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) <a href="https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/NoticeInventory/UCM620362.pdf" target="_blank">designation of soybean leghemoglobin</a>. Nevertheless, the <a href="https://www.ams.usda.gov/publications/content/can-gmos-be-used-organic-products" target="_blank">U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits the "organic" label</a> for foods derived from genetically modified organisms. It is ironic that an innovation that may be eco-friendly and sustainable must be readily dismissed by groups that claim to share those goals.</p><p>Not all vegans are delighted by this new burger. Some insist that a GMO product cannot be vegan for various reasons, including <a href="https://www.nongmoproject.org/blog/tag/vegan/" target="_blank">animal testing of products such as leghemoglobin</a>. In my view, the moral certitude of that position can be challenged because it does not take into account the cattle that are spared. Other vegans view <a href="http://www.vegangmo.com/vegan-gmo-mission" target="_blank">GMOs as a solution to problems</a> that are important to them.</p><p>Judging from its website, <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com/heme" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a> is keenly aware of the constituencies that weigh in on their product. It includes a link describing how <a href="https://medium.com/impossible-foods/how-gmos-can-save-civilization-and-probably-already-have-6e6366cb893" target="_blank">GMOs are saving civilization</a>. But they also make the misleading claim that "Here at Impossible Foods, heme is made directly from plants." In reality, it comes directly from yeast.</p><p>The commercialization of leghemoglobin represents an unanticipated consequence of inquiry into an interesting biological phenomenon. The benefits of scientific research are often unforeseen at the time of their discovery. Whether or not the Impossible Burger venture succeeds on a large scale remains to be seen, but surely food technology will continue to evolve to accommodate human needs as it has since the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago.</p>
By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
You've probably heard the buzz around collagen supplements and your skin by now. But is the hype really that promising? After all, research has pointed to both the benefits and downsides of collagen supplements — and for many beauty-conscious folk, collagen isn't vegan.
How Can Collagen Be Vegan?<p>Instead of being sourced from animals, collagen can now be made by using genetically modified yeast and bacteria.</p><p><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00253-005-0180-x" target="_blank">Researchers</a> have found that the bacteria <em>P. pastoris,</em> in particular, is the most effective and commonly used for genetically engineering high-quality collagen.</p><p>To produce collagen, four human genes that code for collagen are added to the genetic structure of the microbes. Once the genes are in place, the yeast or bacteria then start to produce building blocks of human collagen.</p><p>Pepsin, a digestive enzyme, is added to help structure the building blocks into collagen molecules with the exact structure of human collagen.</p><p>Once this process is complete, you have yourself vegan collagen!</p>
Benefits of Vegan Collagen<p>The ability to make inexpensive, safe collagen sourced from microbes instead of animals has many promising applications for human health.</p><p><strong>1. Potential Lower Cost for Consumers</strong></p><p>Using yeast or bacteria to produce collagen is cost effective and highly scalable in a lab environment. While it hasn't rolled out as a mass-produced product yet, this has potential to lower the cost of collagen for all consumers and make it widely available for various uses from medical treatments to supplements.</p><p><strong>2. Lower Risk of Allergies</strong></p><p>While the biggest benefit is that no animals are harmed, there are other pros to vegan collagen, especially for folks who may have allergies.</p><p>For example, there's some concern over the <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00063030-200418020-00004" target="_blank">risk of transmission of illness</a> through animal-sourced collagen. Collagen via microbes would eliminate this potential issue because it's produced in a controlled environment where common allergens or other harmful substances can be removed.</p><p><strong>3. Higher Safety Profile for Products</strong></p><p>The lab-controlled setting gives manufacturers the ability to improve the safety profile. If the source is easily traceable, it makes it a safer product for all consumers.</p><p><strong>4. More and Cheaper Availability for Medical Procedures</strong></p><p>There are many potential medical benefits to this technology, as collagen is used for much more than just dietary supplements.</p><p>The ability to genetically engineer collagen safely and effectively may be beneficial for many medical procedures. Collagen is commonly used:</p><ul><li>in dermatology for sutures</li><li>to stimulate skin and tissue growth</li><li>to promote wound healing</li></ul><p>It can also serve as a vehicle for drug delivery, or for certain tumor treatments.</p><p><strong>5. Beauty Benefits for Vegans</strong></p><p>The majority of collagen supplements on the market are animal-based, which means people who live an environmentally-friendly or vegan-friendly lifestyle can't access these products.</p><p>With vegan options available, they can now take collagen to <a href="http://www.jmnn.org/article.asp?issn=2278-1870;year=2015;volume=4;issue=1;spage=47;epage=53;aulast=Borumand" target="_blank">potentially help</a> reduce the appearance of wrinkles and stimulate their body to produce more collagen naturally as well as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsfa.6752" target="_blank">support joint</a> and digestive health.</p><p>But, science is still building around these products and applications, so at this time, most of the promises around supplements can still be considered hype.</p>
If Vegan Collagen Isn’t Easily Accessible, You Can Turn to These Alternatives<p>Currently, actual vegan collagen is hard to come by. Most companies sell "collagen boosters" as supplements.</p><p>These boosters contain various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and zinc that the body needs to make collagen.</p><p>Some may also include plant extracts and herbs that are also <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0367326X12000949" target="_blank">found to help</a> stimulate collagen production.</p><p>You can add these vitamins and minerals through your diet, instead of a supplement, to help you meet your amino acids needs. The most abundant amino acids in collagen are glycine, lysine, and proline.</p><p>Plant-based foods high in all three amino acids include:</p><ul><li>soy products: <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tempeh" target="_blank">tempeh</a>, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-tofu" target="_blank">tofu</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/soy-protein-good-or-bad" target="_blank">soy protein</a></li><li>black beans</li><li>kidney beans</li><li>many other legumes</li><li>seeds: especially pumpkin, squash, sunflower, and chia</li><li>nuts: pistachio, peanut, and cashew</li></ul><p>Another way to get the benefits of collagen as a vegan is to take individual amino acid supplements. These are what many vegan-friendly companies sell instead of pure collagen supplements.</p>
Vegan Collagen Options<ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.gardenoflife.com/658010120135-mykind-organics-plant-collagen-builder-60-vegan-tablets">myKind Organics Plant Collagen Builder</a> by Garden of Life, includes: biotin, silica, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals. Price: $27.19</li></ul><ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://reserveage.com/product/plant-based-collagen-builder/">Reserveage Vegan Plant-based Collagen Builder</a>, includes: vitamin C, amino acids, and white tea extract. Price: $39.99</li></ul><ul><li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.algenist.com/products/genius-liquid-collagen?ranEAID=TnL5HPStwNw&ranMID=43049&ranSiteID=TnL5HPStwNw-5oYSL.F9KfKUJE1x4whPaQ&utm_medium=Affiliates&utm_source=Linkshare">Genius Liquid Collagen by Algenist</a>, face cream that contains vegan collagen and microalgae. Price; $115</li></ul>
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By Stacy Malkan
Amid global debate over the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup, numerous claims have been made to defend the product's safety. In the wake of two recent landmark jury rulings that found Roundup to be a substantial factor in causing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we examined some of these claims and fact-checked them for accuracy.
Mark Lynas, Cornell Alliance for Science<p>Cornell Alliance for Science <a target="_blank" href="https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2017/11/europe-still-burns-witches-if-theyre-named-monsanto/">website</a> (November 2017)</p><p>This article by Mark Lynas contains several inaccurate and misleading statements. Like many promoting glyphosate products, the claims here focus on trying to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.</p><p><strong>CLAIM:</strong> IARC is a "little known and rather flaky offshoot of the World Health Organization" that "finds almost everything carcinogenic"</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>IARC is the specialized cancer research agency of WHO with expert panels comprised of independent scientists from various disciplines of cancer research. In its 50-year <a href="https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr233_E.pdf" target="_blank">history</a>, IARC has <a href="https://monographs.iarc.fr/agents-classified-by-the-iarc/" target="_blank">assessed 1,013 substances</a> and found 49 percent of those were "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans"; 20 percent were classified as known or probably carcinogenic to humans.</p><p><strong>CLAIM:</strong> "Early drafts of the IARC assessment were extensively altered at a late stage to point towards a carcinogenicity finding — even when the science they were assessing pointed away from this"</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>This claim is sourced with a flawed Reuters report by Kate Kelland that <a href="https://usrtk.org/our-investigations/acc_loves_katekelland/" target="_blank">left out crucial facts</a>, including the fact that most of the information IARC didn't adopt from "early drafts" was from a review article co-authored by a Monsanto scientist. The review article "did not provide adequate information for independent evaluation of the conclusions reached by the Monsanto scientist and other authors," <a target="_blank" href="https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/IARC_Response_Reuters_October2017.pdf">IARC said</a>. Kelland has written <a target="_blank" href="https://fair.org/home/reuters-vs-un-cancer-agency-are-corporate-ties-influencing-science-coverage/">a number of stories</a> critical of IARC; <a href="https://usrtk.org/monsanto-roundup-trial-tacker/new-monsanto-documents-expose-cozy-connection-to-reuters-reporter/" target="_blank">documents released in 2019</a> establish that Monsanto secretly had a hand in some of her reporting.</p><p>Lynas used one other source to buttress his claims about wrongdoing at IARC: David Zaruk, a former <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/CV.David_.Zaruk_.pdf" target="_blank">chemical industry lobbyist</a> who once worked for the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.</p><p><strong>CLAIM:</strong> Glyphosate is the "most benign chemical in world farming."</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>This statement is not science-based. Studies link glyphosate to a <a href="https://usrtk.org/pesticides/glyphosate-health-concerns/" target="_blank">range of health concerns</a> including cancer, endocrine disruption, liver disease, shortened pregnancies, birth defects and damage to beneficial gut bacteria. Environmental concerns include negative impacts on <a target="_blank" href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/business/misgivings-about-how-a-weed-killer-affects-the-soil.html">soil</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jafc.8b02212">bees</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170517143600.htm">butterflies</a>.</p><p><strong>SOURCE:</strong> Mark Lynas is a <a href="https://usrtk.org/food-for-thought/mark-lynas-promotes-chemical-industry-commercial-agenda/" target="_blank">former journalist turned promotional advocate</a> for agrichemical products. He works for the <a href="https://usrtk.org/our-investigations/cornell-alliance-for-science-is-a-pr-campaign-for-the-agrichemical-industry/" target="_blank">Cornell Alliance for Science, a PR campaign</a> housed at Cornell University that is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote and defend GMOs and pesticides.</p>
American Council on Science and Health<p>ACSH <a target="_blank" href="https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/10/24/glyphosate-gate-iarcs-scientific-fraud-12014" style="">website</a> (October 2017)</p><p><strong>CLAIM: </strong>IARC's report on glyphosate was a case of "scientific fraud."</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>ACSH based its "fraud" claims on the same two sources Mark Lynas used to try to discredit IARC: the <a href="https://usrtk.org/our-investigations/acc_loves_katekelland/" target="_blank">flawed article in Reuters</a> written by a reporter who has <a href="https://usrtk.org/monsanto-roundup-trial-tacker/new-monsanto-documents-expose-cozy-connection-to-reuters-reporter/" target="_blank">cozy ties to Monsanto,</a> and the former <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/CV.David_.Zaruk_.pdf" target="_blank">chemical industry lobbyist</a> David Zaruk.</p><p><strong>SOURCE: </strong>The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) is a <a href="https://usrtk.org/hall-of-shame/why-you-cant-trust-the-american-council-on-science-and-health/" target="_blank">front group</a> that receives funding from <a target="_blank" href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/10/american-council-science-health-leaked-documents-fundraising/">chemical, pharmaceutical and tobacco</a> companies, and pitches its services to industry groups for product defense campaigns, according to <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/acsh-financial-summary.pdf" target="_blank">leaked internal documents.</a> Emails from 2015 establish that <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ACSH-email.pdf" target="_blank">Monsanto was funding ACSH</a> and asked the group to write about the IARC glyphosate report. An ACSH staffer responded that they were already involved in a "full-court press re: IARC" regarding agrichemicals, phthalates and diesel exhaust.</p>
Yvette d’Entremont, a.k.a. the “Sci Babe”<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQzOTkyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzE3NjUxNn0.BzKxd9qvU_Hp_XI4nbWNlPShHnh1qeBk3TSuQkV-Zck/img.jpg?width=980" id="735b4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="72f7eca599a910323a0aa0939b370475" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Self Magazine <a target="_blank" href="https://www.self.com/story/herbicides-in-your-food">article</a> (October 2018)</p><p><span></span><strong>CLAIMS: </strong>"With over 800 studies on it, no study has shown the components in Roundup to cause cancer" … "there haven't been major credible studies showing a causal link between Roundup and cancer."</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>Several major credible studies link Roundup or its key component glyphosate to cancer, including a study submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the 1980s that EPA scientists at the time said was evidence of cancer concerns. There are too many studies to list, but citations can be found in the 2015 <a target="_blank" href="https://www.iarc.fr/featured-news/media-centre-iarc-news-glyphosate/">International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph on Glyphosate</a>.</p><p>Additionally, a broad <a target="_blank" href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1383574218300887">scientific analysis</a> of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides published in February 2019 found that people with high exposures had an increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.</p><p><strong>SOURCE: </strong>Yvette d'Entremont is a "contributing editor" to Self Magazine with a column called "SciBabe Explains." Self Magazine does not disclose to its readers that SciBabe <a href="https://usrtk.org/gmo/sci-babe-yvette-dentremont/" target="_blank">partners with companies whose products she defends.</a> In 2017, the artificial sweetener company Splenda <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SPLENDA-LIVING%C2%AE-Blog-Debunk-the-Junk-Science.pdf" target="_blank">partnered with SciBabe</a> to help "empower fans of the SPLENDA® Brand to take an active role in busting myths about sucralose." Chemical companies have sponsored some of her speaking engagements at farming conferences.</p>
Geoffrey Kabat, Epidemiologist<p>Genetic Literacy Project <a target="_blank" href="https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2018/10/19/there-are-literally-no-more-studies-we-can-do-to-show-glyphosate-is-safe-expert-says/">website</a> (October 2018)</p><p><span></span><strong>CLAIM: </strong>Glyphosate "has been so thoroughly studied for toxicity and the concentrations found in humans are so low that there is no need for further study … there is really nothing left to justify further research!"</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>In sworn testimony admitted into evidence in ongoing litigation against Monsanto and its owner Bayer AG, former Monsanto CEO <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/2019/04/Hugh-Grant-testimony-February-4-2019.pdf" target="_blank">Hugh Grant acknowledged</a> the company never did any epidemiology study of glyphosate-based herbicide formulations the company sells. The company also sought to block a <a href="https://usrtk.org/pesticides/read-the-emails-texts-that-show-epa-efforts-to-slow-atsdr-glyphosate-review/" target="_blank">toxicity evaluation</a> of glyphosate formulations by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.</p><p>Moreover, these comments, which Dr. Kabat attributed to an anonymous source, ignore two key facts: independent studies link glyphosate to a wide range of <a href="https://usrtk.org/pesticides/glyphosate-health-concerns/" target="_blank">health problems and environmental concerns</a>, and evidence from court filings suggests that Monsanto interfered with scientific and regulatory assessments of glyphosate (see examples and sources <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29843257">here</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29884897">here</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/roundup-the-weedkiller-that-changed-farming-faces-a-reckoning-11554735900">here</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://inthesetimes.com/features/monsanto_epa_glyphosate_roundup_investigation.html">here</a>).</p><p>According to Judge Vince Chhabria, who presided over a recent federal trial that resulted in $80 million in damages against Monsanto, "the <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/2019/03/Judges-order-denying-Monsanto-motion-for-summary-judgment.pdf" target="_blank">plaintiffs have presented a great deal of evidence</a> that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of its product." The judge <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Chhabria-quote-Monsanto-does-not-care.png" target="_blank">also wrote</a>:</p>
Patrick Moore, PR Consultant<p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovKw6YjqSfM">Video interview with Canal+</a> (March 2015)</p><p><strong>CLAIM: </strong>"You can drink a whole quart of [glyphosate] and it won't hurt you."</p>
Kevin Folta, PhD, Professor at the University of Florida<p>Tweets <a href="https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Folta-drank-glyphosate.png" target="_blank">2015</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/kevinfolta/status/395992295834546176">2013</a></p>
Alison van Eenennaam, PhD, Animal Geneticist, UC Davis<p><a target="_blank" href="https://therealnews.com/stories/panel0521gmo">video interview on the Real News Network</a> (May 2015)</p><p><strong>CLAIM: </strong>"I think there's several very comprehensive meta-analyses that have been done recently that show there are no unique toxicological or carcinogenicity effects associated with the use of Roundup. There was the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment that just reviewed hundreds of toxicological studies and nearly a thousand published reports, and concluded that the data showed neither carcinogenic or mutagentic properties of glyphosate, nor that glyphosate is toxic to fertility, reproduction, and or embryonic fetal development in lab animals … And I wouldn't call Germany necessarily a country where you would expect them to be doing a risk assessment that wasn't really looking at what the data's saying."</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>A <a target="_blank" href="https://www.greens-efa.eu/files/doc/docs/298ff6ed5d6a686ec799e641082cdb63.pdf">2019 report</a> commissioned by Members of Parliament in the European Union found that Germany's risk assessment agency "copy-and-pasted tracts from Monsanto studies." See reporting in the Guardian by Arthur Neslen, <em><a target="_blank" href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/eu-glyphosate-approval-was-based-on-plagiarised-monsanto-text-report-finds">EU glyphosate approval was based on plagiarised Monsanto text, report finds</a>.</em></p><p><strong>SOURCE:</strong> Dr. van Eenennaam is a leading promoter of genetically engineered animals and crops, and a fervent advocate for deregulation. <a href="https://usrtk.org/gmo/alison-van-eenennaam-key-outside-spokesperson-and-lobbyist-for-the-agrichemical-and-gmo-industries/" target="_blank">Documents show she has coordinated</a> with agrichemical companies and their public relations firms on PR and messaging.</p>
Food Evolution Documentary Film<p>This 2017 feature-length documentary promotes genetically engineered foods as the solution to world hunger but glosses over a key controversy at the center of the GMO debate: whether Roundup, the herbicide that most GM crops are engineered to resist, causes cancer. The film does not even mention the IARC report that found glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen, and it relies on just two sources to claim that glyphosate is not a worry.</p><p><strong>CLAIM: </strong>The film shows footage of Monsanto's Robb Fraley giving a speech; when an audience member asked him about studies linking glyphosate to cancer or birth defects, Fraley waved his hand dismissively and said all those studies are "pseudoscience."</p><p><strong>FACT:</strong> <a href="https://usrtk.org/pesticides/glyphosate-health-concerns/" target="_blank">Evidence from animal studies and epidemiological data</a> published in reputable journals link glyphosate to several adverse impacts including cancer and birth defects.</p><p><strong>CLAIM: </strong>A farmer claims that glyphosate has "very, very low toxicity; lower than coffee, lower than salt."</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>Comparing the toxicity of short-term exposure of glyphosate to things like coffee or salt is irrelevant and misleading; concerns about links to cancer are based on chronic, long-term exposures to glyphosate.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>SOURCE: </strong>Food Evolution was produced by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson and funded by the Institute for Food Technologists, an industry trade group. Dozens of academics have called it a <a href="https://usrtk.org/gmo/food-evolution-gmo-film-serves-up-chemical-industry-agenda/" target="_blank">propaganda film,</a> and several people interviewed for the film described a <a target="_self" href="https://www.ecowatch.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-food-evolution-2446914838.html">sneaky and deceptive filming process</a>. New York University Prof. Marion Nestle <a target="_blank" href="https://www.foodpolitics.com/2017/06/gmo-industry-propaganda-film-food-evolution/">asked to be taken out of the film</a>, but the director refused.</p>
Independent Women’s Forum<p>IWF <a target="_blank" href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2807225/Glyphosate-in-Cereal:-Another-Myth-Promoted-by-Unethical-Green-Groups">website</a> (August 2018)</p><p><strong>CLAIM:</strong> "The truth is, glyphosate is not carcinogenic."</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>This article by Julie Gunlock provides no scientific backing for its claims; the only links lead to previous IWF blogs accusing environmental groups of lying and "unnecessarily scaring moms."</p><p><strong>SOURCE: </strong>The Independent Women's Forum <a href="https://usrtk.org/our-investigations/independentwomensforum/" target="_blank">promotes tobacco products, denies climate science and partners with Monsanto</a> on events to defend pesticides. IWF is funded largely by right-wing foundations that promote deregulation for polluting industries.</p>
The International Food Information Council<p>IFIC <a target="_blank" href="https://foodinsight.org/cutting-through-the-clutter-on-glyphosate/">website</a> (January 2016)</p><p><strong>CLAIM:</strong> "IARC's determination [that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen] was found by numerous experts to have excluded dozens of studies that found no evidence of glyphosate being carcinogenic. Experts also found IARC's review to be based on flawed and discredited science, some even going so far as to say the conclusion was 'totally wrong.'"</p><p><strong>FACT: </strong>IFIC relied on industry sources for these claims, linking to articles by Val Giddings, PhD, former trade group executive turned <a href="https://usrtk.org/our-investigations/val-giddings-top-operative-for-the-agrichemical-industry/" target="_blank">PR consultant for the agrichemical industry</a>; and Keith Solomon, a toxicologist who was <a target="_blank" href="https://www.techtimes.com/articles/114226/20151208/scientists-hired-by-monsanto-say-weed-killer-glyphosate-does-not-cause-cancer.htm">hired by Monsanto</a> to assess the IARC report.</p><p><strong>SOURCE:</strong> The <a href="https://usrtk.org/gmo/ific-how-big-food-spins-bad-news/" target="_blank">International Food Information Council,</a> funded by large food and chemical companies, promotes and defends sugar, artificial sweeteners, food additives, pesticides, processed foods and GMOs. A Monsanto PR plan identified IFIC <a href="https://usrtk.org/gmo/monsanto-relied-on-these-partners-to-attack-top-cancer-scientists/" target="_blank">as one of the "industry partners"</a> that could help defend glyphosate from cancer concerns.</p>
<p>This photo posted to the IFIC glyphosate page (then deleted after we called attention to it) is an example of the type of messaging the food industry uses to try to convince women to trust their "experts."</p>
By Brian Barth
Looking to spice it up this year in the old vegetable patch?
1. Habanada Pepper<p>Row 7 Seed Company, the new seed supplier founded by chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Stone Barns fame, has a growing selection of never-before-seen vegetable varieties, including this twist on a famously hot pepper. It has habanero flavor without all the heat. Get it? "Nada" of the "haba"?</p>
2. Georgia Cabbage Collards<p>This low-growing collard forms loose heads with a cabbage-like flavor. An old-fashioned hybrid that was likely once grown throughout the South, this variety was nearly lost until a man named Bobby Prevatte, who inherited seeds from his grandparents, brought it to the attention of botanists. It's now available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.</p>
3. Mouse Melon<p>While it may look like a watermelon that has been shrunk down to the size of a grape, this traditional Mexican vegetable is more closely related to cucumbers. New to North American palates, it's suddenly a hot item at specialty seed companies. The flavor is cucumber-like but with a delightful bite — it's often described as a cucumber that's already been pickled.</p>
4. Ground Cherry<p>This unique crop looks like a cherry tomato but comes wrapped in a papery husk like a tomatillo. A relative of both vegetables, the ground cherry has a flavor that's a cross between the two: sweet and tomatoey, with a piquant aftertaste. As a bonus, it's not susceptible to the myriad pests and diseases that plague tomato plants.</p>
5. Yacón<p>Hailing from the high Andes, this ancient vegetable has recently found its way onto American plates. It's the tuberous root of the South American sunflower, which grows readily in North American soils. Raw yacón has a crunchy texture, with a flavor somewhere between celery and green apples. It's often added to salads, but it can also be cooked like a sweet potato.</p>
6. Honeynut Squash<p>Another recent invention of the folks at Row 7 Seed Company, this is, essentially, a miniaturized version of butternut squash. The idea behind the company is to develop new vegetables bred specifically with chef-level culinary attributes. Honeynut squash, which has quickly become the darling of foodie circles, is Row 7's first smashing success. It concentrates all the flavor of a full-size butternut squash into a smaller, more potent package.</p>
7. Tree Collards<p>These purplish-green collards grow on spindly stalks up to 10 feet tall. The flavor is sweeter and nuttier than standard collards. Even more impressive is their perennial nature: Unlike annual vegetables, tree collards produce year after year without replanting. Unfortunately, they only do so in mild-winter regions (prolonged temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the plants). The good news is that you can grow them in a pot and cut the stalks down to a reasonable size before you bring them indoors for winter.</p>
8. African Blue Basil<p>Speaking of perennial plants, here is a rare perennial basil, though it, too, dies when the cold weather arrives unless you bring it indoors. African blue basil isn't blue, but it is beautiful, with purple-tinged foliage and flowers. It grows into a compact, rounded shrub that looks more at home in a flower border than a vegetable garden.</p>
9. Roman Camomile<p>German camomile — the kind that's typically brewed for tea — grows as a spindly, weed-like plant. Roman camomile — its distant cousin — grows as a flat green mat, about three inches tall, that tolerates foot traffic and can be used as an herbal lawn. A cold-hardy perennial, it has a similar flavor and fragrance to German camomile (an annual) but is much more concentrated. Use it as an ingredient in sweet iced tea, or simply sprawl out on the plant for an aromatherapy session.</p>
10. Lavender Mint<p>Plant breeders are always coming up with new varieties of mint — a plant that is unusually amenable to genetic tinkering (we're talking old-fashioned breeding here, not genetic engineering). There's chocolate mint, pineapple mint and lemon mint, among many others. Now, there is also lavender mint. With two of the world's most popular herbs combined into one, what's not to like?</p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmodernfarmer.com%2F2019%2F03%2F10-new-vegetables-and-herbs-for-your-garden-this-spring%2F"><span></span></a>
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By Ken Roseboro
Consumer advocates and non-GMO food experts have criticized the non-GMO certification of Cargill's EverSweet sweetener by NSF's Non-GMO True North program because the product is derived from a genetically engineered yeast and should be considered a GMO.
In 2015, the FDA approved genetically engineered salmon, the first ever GE animal to be approved for human consumption anywhere in the world. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians called for sufficient consultation with Tribes to assess the environmental impact of GE salmon production, a legal requirement the FDA did not honor.