Impossible Burger, So Many Reasons Not to Eat It

People are still asking me about the Impossible Burger. I tell them there are so many reasons not to eat it. Let’s discuss some of them.

Earlier this year, the manufacturers of the controversial veggie burger just announced that in the future, due to “high demand” for the product, its plant-based patties will be made using GMO soy.

The formula change was made to ensure the smooth rollout of the Impossible Burger in Burger King restaurants. The soy formulation is apparently better able to withstand Burger King’s trademark flame grilling. As a result, in early in 2019, Impossible Foods dumped the textured wheat protein it had been using and replaced it with soy protein concentrate instead.

Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, publicly defended the move. But a closer look reveals that Brown’s claims about the healthfulness and sustainability of “Impossible Burger 2.0” just don’t stack up.

Impossible Burger

As reported by ECO Watch, here are six reasons the CEO of Impossible Burger is wrong when he claims that GMO soy is “the safest and most environmentally responsible option” for scaling up production of the fake meat product — a product that already uses a genetically engineered yeast, called heme, as its key ingredient.

1. Dubious Health Claims

When the switch to soy was first made. Sue Klapholz, Impossible Foods vice president of nutrition & health, said that “Soy is not only safe; it’s accessible, nutritious.” That’s not quite true.

Results from studies showing healthful properties of fermented soy products like tofu or miso are sometimes used to support the healthfulness of other, more highly processed types of soy.

But all soy is not created equal.

In the messy world of soy studies, where “soy” can be defined as almost anything with soy in it, there are just as many studies showing no or only marginal benefits, and in some cases, potential for harm — e. g. interference with thyroid medication — from diets high in soy.

Soy protein isolates and concentrates are made from defatted soybean flakes that have been washed in either alcohol or water to remove the sugars and dietary fiber. The flakes are then processed into powders or “flours.”

Alcohol is the most common process, as it produces products with a neutral taste. But the beneficial isoflavones in soy are removed by this method. Soy protein concentrate has the lowest level of healthful isoflavones — including daidzein, genistein and glycitein — of any form of processed soy.

There are other differences between the various types of soy. A 2014 study comparing GMO and organic soy beans found small but statistically significant differences in the nutritional quality: The organic soybeans had slightly higher protein levels and lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids showed no significant difference. Both fats are essential in human diets, but U.S. eaters tend to consume a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than is healthy.

2. Higher Use of Pesticides

Brown says that “careful analysis” has “conclusively shown” GMO soy is “better for the environment than the alternatives.”

Absolutely untrue. GMO soy, whether fed to cows or people, is bad for the environment.

A 2013 Food & Water Watch study, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, found that planting GM crops quickly resulted in the growth of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” which caused farmers to increase their herbicide use.

Pesticides

That report echoed the findings of another study produced by Washington State University research professor Charles Benbrook in 2012. In 2016, research from University of Virginia confirmed that glyphosate-resistant weeds have led to a 28-percent hike in herbicide use on GM soybeans compared with non-GM. This has also been seen in other countries, including CanadaBrazil and Argentina.

There is also evidence that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, accumulates in GM soy. The same study that found GM soy is nutritionally inferior to organic, and that GM-soy contained high residues of glyphosate and its toxic breakdown product AMPA, while conventional and organic soybeans were free of these agrochemicals.

That may help explain why a recent laboratory analysis by Moms Across America found glyphosate residues in the new formula Impossible Burger. The levels of glyphosate and its toxic breakdown product AMPA were low (11 ppb) but as the Moms note, evidence from animal feed studies indicates that just 0.1 ppb of glyphosate can destroy gut bacteria.

Other studies of animals fed GM foods and/or glyphosate show worrying trends, including damage to vital organs like the liver and kidneys, damage to gut tissues and gut flora, immune system disruption, reproductive abnormalities and even tumors.

Agrichemical companies continue to claim that glyphosate is safe. Yet glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and its maker Monsanto (Bayer) has recently been ordered to pay out billions in compensation to victims who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a result of using the weedkiller. More cases are pending.

3. No Benefits for Farmers

According to Brown, the company decided to source “American-grown, milled and processed GM soy” that is “from farms in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois” because there just isn’t enough non-GMO soy to meet demand.

There is no question that GM soy is more plentiful than non-GM soy in the U.S. In fact, the U.S. grows more soybeans than any other country except Brazil. According to the USDA, more than 90 percent of the soybeans harvested on U.S. farms are genetically engineered to withstand herbicides, especially Roundup.

That should translate into more crops to sell, but an in-depth investigation by the New York Times found that, in addition to increasing pesticide use, genetic modification in the U.S. and Canada has not brought the expected increases in crop yields.

This echoes the findings of a 2016 National Academy of Sciences report that found “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the U.S. had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops.

Right now, U.S. farmers are suffering from a glut of soy, thanks to ongoing trade disputes with China, which have resulted in low prices and farm bankruptcies.

4. Kills Biodiversity

The adoption of GMO herbicide-resistant crops like soy has favored the use of herbicides over tried and tested methods of weed management, such as crop rotation.

In addition to creating superweeds, glyphosate-based herbicides damage microbial life in the soil, which makes crops more susceptible to diseases. They are toxic to a range of aquatic organisms and also kill beneficial “weeds” like milkweed, a major food source for the Monarch butterfly.

As weeds become resistant, older and stronger pesticides such as 2,4-D or dicamba, are being used. In 2017-18, “dicamba drift” was responsible for damage to an estimated 5 million acres of non-GM soybeans in 24 states, in addition to numerous specialty crops and wild plants.

Globally, soy plantations have been responsible for wholesale clearing of forests and savannahs in places like Brazil, with the added effect of contributing to climate change. In the U.S., land converted to soy production has typically been pre-existing agricultural land and so is not linked to deforestation. But increasing demand for soy is destroying American prairies. Analysis of satellite data has shown that between 2006 and 2011, farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska had converted 1.3 million acres of grassland into soybean and corn production.

Research by Environmental Working Group and the USDA’s Economic Research Service supports this finding.

These monocultures are bad news for wildlife, because they destroy habitats for a wide range of wild creatures, from ground-nesting birds to pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Bees Dying

But crop monocultures also lead to mono-diets. Agricultural diversity ensures a healthier environment and greater food security on a global scale. But the over-focus on cash crops like soy means that today just a handful of crops now dominate diets around the world. This new global diet has more calories and less nutrition, and is responsible for the global rise in non-communicable diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

5. No ‘Scientific Consensus’ Around Safety

Brown proclaims there is “scientific consensus that GMOs are safe for consumers and the environment — a view now endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA), the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization.”

But Brown’s statement is factually untrue.

closer look at these claims shows that the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health statement opposing GMO labeling did not claim GMOs are safe. It acknowledged “a small potential for adverse events … due mainly to horizontal gene transfer, allergenicity and toxicity.” The AMA recommended mandatory safety assessments prior to release of GM foods — a system which, as the AMA pointed out, is not in place in the U.S.

The National Academy of Sciences has not issued any blanket claims of GMO safety. It did issue a report in which it analyzed a range of plant-breeding techniques and concluded that GM posed a higher risk of introducing unintended changes into food than any other crop breeding method other than mutation breeding, a method in which plant genomes are bombarded with radiation or chemicals to induce mutations.

The WHO has stated: “No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of GM foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

But take a look at the text that preceded that sentence: “Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.” The WHO also recommends that “adequate post-market monitoring” is carried out to ensure the safety of GM foods.

Yet such monitoring is not carried out anywhere in the world.

In fact, GM foods were not subjected to human trials before being released into the food chain. Their human health impacts are not being studied by any government agency, nor by the companies that produce them.

That’s why nearly 300 independent scientists from around the world issued a public warning that there was no scientific consensus about the safety of eating genetically modified food, and that the risks, as demonstrated in independent research, gave “serious cause for concern.”

6. Ignores Consumer Concerns

Brown says “we believe in our consumers and respect their right to consider the facts and decide for themselves.” He adds that the inclusion of GMO soy will lead to “noise from anti-genetic engineering fundamentalists.”

But concerns about GMOs aren’t just “noise.” They persist because they are legitimate, and because consumers want facts from independent researchers and other sources who are not paid mouthpieces for the GMO industry, or brands with a bias.

U.S. consumers overwhelmingly want GMO foods labeled so they can make real informed choices. Impossible Foods has chosen to ignore both legitimate concerns and the desire for choice by insinuating its fake meat burger onto the market via independent restaurants, large restaurant chains, theme parks, museums, stadiums, college campuses and corporate offices — places where no food labeling is required and where customers are least likely to ask questions.

It’s time to demand more from the food we eat, better protection from our regulators and a higher level of truthfulness and transparency from food brands.

The Impossible Burger is now slowly being introduced into grocery stores and restaurants. We need to spread the word about this product and educate the public about the dangers of the Impossible Burger. We need your help! Please share this article.

Food Integrity Now gives full credit to ECO Watch for all their research in this article.

Please support Food Integrity Now by supporting our Healthstore or one of the new line of products, Biocidin, that helps detox from some of the environmental toxins that we face everyday. We appreciate your support!

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About Carol Grieve'

Carol Grieve' is the Founder, CEO and host of Food Integrity Now. She is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist using the functional medicine process, life coach, parenting coach, food educator, speaker, writer, visionary and artist. To find out more about Carol's wellness coaching and public speaking, contact her at carol@foodintegritynow.org or emailing her at carolgrieve333@gmail.com Phone, Zoom and Skype sessions are available for coaching!

Comments

  1. Tamula sawyer says

    Thank you for this information.

  2. Jesse Keys says

    My motivation as a vegetarian is to limit my exposure to the meat industry. I would love to see you do an analysis of Burger King meat. Only then can we decide the benefit of eating one over the other. For now I’m not killing animals for a simple hamburger

    • Jesse, I don’t need to to an analysis to know that Burger King meat is not beneficial to eat It is not grass fed or humanly raised. Some people may choose to eat meat but if they do, please have it be grass fed and finished and humanly raised.

      • Even though grass fed animals are far less environmentally sustainable than factory raised animals? No matter how well they were raised, there is no ethical way to end an animals life that doesnt want to die. The only “ethical” option is to opt out of eating meat entirely. You could tell me that soy will kill me faster than meat, and I’d still pick soy over murder every single time.

        • Connor, your choose. Just educating about what is really in the Impossible Burger.

        • Amen. Ironically, people like to criticize veganism and vegan products to act like they are better than vegans. And then they say it’s the other way around. Author, what is your alternative to the impossible burger then? You seem to care a lot about health, sustainability and such but you say nothing about meat which is far worse in every area. And this isn’t even talking about what’s ethical.

          • This is about educating people about the Impossible Burger, period! Alternative is to eat real whole foods. Impossible Burger among other things is highly processed.

  3. What information can we really trust with the meat industry spending millions in effort to control the dialogue. Its very sad.

  4. Ron Zabrocki says

    The Impossible Burger is an over salted, fatty unhealthy mess. When I questioned BK about it, they said “We’d like you to think of it as a moral decision, and not a health based decision.”
    Literally WTF? Caring about my own personal health may be the most moral thing I can do! And spreading the word to others to avoid this…unless you like junk” food”. (It really is junk and they know it.)

    • It is a moral decision. Why are you going to Burger King for healthy food? Don’t go to any fast food restaurants, problem solved. I will go because I like a burger on occasion and I don’t want an animal to die for it.

  5. I’ll stick to beyond meat. It’s not like i eat “fake” meat everyday. I still think normal meat is worse. Puts unnecessary strain on the body not to mention it’s loaded with hormones,cholesterol, & toxic proteins.
    Humane raised and grass fed is a load of propaganda. Just my belief based on my findings.

    • Marianne, you are entitled to your opinion. Just warning people about what is really in the Impossible Burger. Not about an either or–just educating about this one.

      • Edis Delgado says

        Please educate us on the animal flesh burger too. Saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, steroids, antibiotics, not to mention horrific for the environmental impact and of course the horrible conditions, unnecessary death/slaughtering or a innocent being at a fraction of their Natural life who does want to die 👍👍 If your not eating the impossible burger try other plant burgers. But considering everything, an animal burger is the last thing to be putting in your mouth.

        • This article is about the dangers of the Impossible Burger! That’s it!

        • Kimberly Crail says

          We give death to a sentient being with every mouthful we eat. Plants are sentient just lack eyes that cause humans to feel sympathy. (Except for fish eyes, apparently not that sympathetic). So, we honor bless and thank our food. Helping them live happily and die humanely is the work.

  6. Laurie zielinski says

    Thank you for a very informative article. It answered many of the questions I had about a fast food chain claiming to have an healthy alternative.

  7. Please educate us about the stupidity of vegans and their insistence that all farm animals have horrible tortured lives and in inhumane deaths. Please tell us why we should fight against Mother Nature with every fibre of our being and pretend we grew a ruminate stomach and are magically transformed into herbivores at a whim of obnoxious stupidity that we pretend is a moral choice. Please tell us about the low bioavailability on non animal fat based DHA and lipids and how our brains run on animal fats and without them we become pouting morons with snide remarks towards anything that threatens our mythical fairytale of misinformation and lies that omnivores should magically become dumb obnoxious herbivores…

    I highly recommend all Vegans go watch some nature documentaries, because there are absolutely no humane deaths in nature, they are brutal, suffering, nightmarish ways to die. I highly recommend you vegans go visit an ethical farm and watch them put a cow down (it’s the fastest most humane deaths you can imagine, literally a millisecond and it’s over). And that animal had an incredible stress free life with no struggles, and was lovingly cared for, and had plenty to eat, compared to the frightened existence of animals in nature, they lived glorious lives and experienced an incredibly humane death.

    We are omnivores, and our digestive systems are designed/evolved to thrive on omnivore diets. We can survive on all meat diets just like we can survive on all plants for a limited time (and taking highly refined vitamin and mineral supplements can prolong the amount of time we can survive those incredibly poor diet choices or survival situations). The only thing immoral here is purposefully choosing to limit your mental acuity by starving it of the bio available fats it needs that are only found in animal fats which we as omnivore human beings, evolved to rely upon. In other words, you are choosing to be obnoxious morons and you somehow think that pissing and moaning about not eating what we are designed/evolved for in order to be healthy (without needing highly refined supplements), is somehow going to compel us to join you on your journey to obnoxious dipshitville.

    Carol simply wrote a piece stating the common sense conclusion that highly processed fake meat, concocted an a lab (not a kitchen), made from highly refined materials sourced from genetically modified plants that were grown in toxic chemicals is not healthy… hmm go figure. I simply reacted to (and pointed out the lack of common sense of) the morons attacking her.

    It’s morally wrong to pretend this fake meat crap is food and sell it to stupid people for consumption. You don’t need the brain function of a healthy omnivore to understand why cancer has surpassed heart disease as the number 1 killer in industrialized countries.

    • Anton Ferreira says

      Go view a CAFO, fella, then get back to us.
      But you’re right about fake meat – it’s crap.

      • Why do you think I should view a CAFO Anton? I didn’t write anything about CAFOs, and those horrid places have nothing to do with anything anyone has said. My family and I eat 100% organic, 100% of the time, including all meat. CAFOs will disappear when people stop buying bad meat and eggs from them. That has nothing to do with fake meat, that has nothing to do with vegan/vegetarian diets being horrible and unsustainable, that has to do with meat consumers making really bad choices.

  8. Anton Ferreira says

    A very comprehensive, well researched piece. Switching from textured wheat to GMO soy was a breath-taking flip. The Impossible Patty is a slab of poison.

    Tofu is not fermented, BTW.

  9. Krys-Tyna Collins says

    Thank you for the information.
    I find that some people feel they must defend their choices by attacking.
    I understand that you are only giving info.
    Please don’t stop the work you are doing.

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