As a two-decades long Vegan, I do my best to eat the right things, live the right way, and participate in the right fights. I am, however, confounded by the anti-GMO reactions of some people who claim to want to live a better, healthier, life. GMO — Genetically Modified Organisms — has been the prime directive of the food chain in America, and the world, for centuries. The anti-GMO-ers remind me of the anti-vaxxers who refuse to recognize the successful results of science, and technology, only because the facts do not support their paranoid worldview.
Farmers have been using GMO seeds, and crops, to better help protect our food sources. You need to vigilantly beat the pests, and the weather, and the odds stacked against a cornfield; and you gain an advantage by building a better, heartier, more robust, and tastier, kernel of corn, round potato or, heartier carrot.
Your crops flourish, instead of die, when they can live without much water, or they can better stand up to the wind, or they won’t instantly disappear when the first frost falls. Food is what becomes us, and we need to have a safe, reliable, source of nutrition.
While we may, romantically, hope for the purest food sources from antiquity — non-GMO food — we are risking our future against the past. Flu shots are updated every year with new methods, and protections, and best practices, because the threat to the body is ever-changing as well.
Crops are no different. Live food requires changing protections. We need to anticipate what will kill/eat/poison our grown food sources, and we need to proactively prevent those threats from finding success against us, and our bellies.
I’ve been actively drinking Soylent for six months. I love Soylent as a meal replacement. I love the name. I love it that Soylent survives, nay, was created, as a GMO product.
However, my love for Soylent doesn’t mean that will protect my beloved wife from being attacked when she drinks Soylent. One associate picked up my wife’s bottle of Soylent from the lunch table and shook it in her face, repeatedly pointing to the “Produced with genetic engineering” mark on the label. This associate was shaking, furious really, that ANYONE would be drinking ANYTHING that was GMO! When the associate was asked why she was against GMO, her shouted reply was, merely, “Because it’s not non-GMO!”
From the Soylent blog:
The ethical debate about genetic engineering and its products, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), has been divisive. Many of the criticisms of genetically engineered (GE) foods center on potential risks to human health, the environment, and socioeconomic dynamics, and are typically variations on the following statement:
‘Nature is complex; the human body is a black box, ecosystems are chaotic, and socioeconomic networks are highly interdependent. Introducing variables into these systems can perturb them in ways that are difficult to predict, with consequences that may only emerge over time.’
This principle is invoked liberally throughout anti-GMO rhetoric. It is ostensibly reasonable, scientifically impossible to disprove, and fundamentally flawed.
I’m also a mighty fan of the Impossible Burger — and the hardcore “Vegan” community is having a fit that the delicious, and Vegan, burger is “not non-GMO” and that it was “tested on rats” — and I really don’t understand their argument against Impossible Foods as a whole, because, to make a better world, you have to negotiate the transition process we are in right now, from killing to planting, and you have to make conscious compromises for the greater good, and part of that is marking the current requirements of food labeling, and testing, to make the next, larger, step, possible.
From the Impossible blog:
We genetically engineer yeast to make a key ingredient: heme. The process allows us to produce the Impossible Burger at scale with the lowest achievable environmental impact.
We start with the gene for a protein called leghemoglobin, a heme protein that is naturally found in the root nodules of soy plants. Leghemoglobin is similar to myoglobin, the heme protein that is exceptionally abundant in animal muscles, binds oxygen and gives meat its unique flavor and aroma.
We add the soy leghemoglobin gene to a yeast strain, and grow the yeast via fermentation. Then we isolate the leghemoglobin, or heme, from the yeast. We add heme to the Impossible Burger to give it the intense, meaty flavor, aroma and cooking properties of animal meat.
By producing our heme in yeast, we avoid digging up soy plants to harvest the root nodules, which would promote erosion and release carbon stored in the soil. This enables us to produce heme sustainably at high volume and make plant-based meat for millions of people, offsetting the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
Here’s the FDA Letter [the term “GRAS” means “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the FDA]:
Based on the information that Impossible Foods provided, as well as other information available to FDA, we have no questions at this time regarding Impossible Foods’ conclusion that soy leghemoglobin preparation is GRAS under its intended conditions of use to optimize flavor in ground beef analogue products intended to be cooked.
Nothing is perfect. Nothing is pristine. Life is grimy, and bloody. We do the best with what we do not have. GMO helps us survive in a darkening, threatening, world.
To thrive, and to become even better, we need to outsmart nature — that of the human of the us of us, and mother — and that takes a lot of thinking, and then doing, so we may continue onward, upward, by always improving our genetic structure to help us yearn into the next day, and then cry into a thousand tomorrows.
Modification is change, and we are always in a perpetual state of decay, and that fact, is never in flux.