Impossible Foods, founded in 2011 by Pat Brown, a Stanford University chemist, came up with a meatless, “bleeding” burger which may hit the U.S. market as early as next year.

A primary ingredient in the Impossible Burger is genetically engineered soy leghemoglobin, which releases a heme-like protein when broken down. This protein is what gives the plant-based patty its meatlike look, taste and texture, and makes the patty “bleed” when cooked.

It is important to recognize that soy is loaded with lectins and can cause major problems in many individuals. Ideally, soy is best avoided unless it is fermented.

While the company refers to it as “heme,” technically, plants produce non-heme iron, and this is technically GE yeast-derived soy leghemoglobin. Heme iron only occurs in meat and seafood. A main difference between heme and non-heme iron has to do with its absorbability. Plant-based non-heme iron is less readily absorbed. This is one of the reasons why vegans are at higher risk of iron-deficiency anemia than meat eaters. Moreover, while soy leghemoglobin is found in the roots of soybean plants, the company is recreating it using GE yeast.

Impossible Foods insists the burger is perfectly safe to eat, arguing the key ingredient, “heme,” is “an ancient molecule found in every living organism.” The FDA disagrees, and has asked the company to demonstrate safety in humans, not only for the heme protein derived from its soy root but also for 40+ other proteins that make up this GE yeast-derived soy leghemoglobin.

According to the FDA, the company’s assessment of the possible allergenicity of its product is lacking. As reported by Global Justice,”In discussion with FDA, Impossible Foods … admitted that up to a quarter of its ‘heme’ ingredient was composed of 46 ‘unexpected’ additional proteins, some of which are unidentified and none of which were assessed for safety in the dossier.”

Impossible Foods’ founder and CEO, Pat Brown said,”bleeding” burger is to eliminate the need for animal foods in the human diet. Part of his argument is that plant-based diets are more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. While I agree with his view that people eat too much meat, and the worst kind — factory farmed meat — monocultured GE crops are hardly the picture of sustainability.

It’s one thing to be vegan by choice. It’s another entirely to eliminate animal foods for everyone. There are a number of problems with strict veganism, as you eliminate many necessary nutrients. Once you start talking about a GE-based vegan diet the risks are bound to be even higher.

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