A couple months back, I was scrolling through a thread on Twitter about the Impossible Burger. I noticed several accounts tweeting a link from a website I’ve never heard of — “Moms Across America” — warning not to eat the Impossible Burger because it’s just soaked in glyphosate, an herbicide originally produced by Monsanto (Roundup).
Glyphosate has been in the news recently, as three lawsuits — all successful — have been brought against Monsanto, presided over by judges with apparent sympathy for the plaintiffs who allege that glyphosate gave them cancer. I haven’t been following theses cases closely, but I know that prior lawsuits have not been successful.
Being the curious person that I am, I opened the article on the Impossible Burger. I poked around the website first to learn that Moms Across America is anti-GMO and anti-vax (vaccines are “simply not working as intended,” they say). So I knew I was in for a treat.
The article reports the results of a lab test commissioned by the group to determine the glyphosate content of both the Impossible Burger as well as the Beyond Burger. They tested 100g of the Impossible Burger and 1 Beyond Burger patty. The test results show that 7.1 ng/g was detected in the Impossible Burger, with an effective glyphosate level of 11.3 ng/g. The Beyond Burger, on the other hand, contained 0.6 ng/g glyphosate, with an effective glyphosate level of 1.0 ng/g.
An important consideration: the Beyond Burger can be purchased at grocery stores, while the Impossible Burger cannot. This means that Moms Across America purchased one Impossible Burger at a restaurant, perhaps replete with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a bun, and thought this to be a fair comparison to a Beyond Burger patty as-is. The potential for glyphosate contamination in the Impossible Burger is high.
In addition, testing just one Beyond Burger patty and 100g of Impossible Burger is unlikely to provide conclusive results. A larger sample is required for any degree of certainty with regards to the presence of glyphosate.
These considerations didn’t stop Moms Across America from claiming the Impossible Burger “can have up to 11X higher levels of glyphosate residues than the Beyond Meat Burger.”
Impossible Foods responded, pulling absolutely no punches. After calling out Moms Across America for promoting anti-GMO, anti-vax hysteria alongside untested “detoxes” and other “supplements,” the company spells out just how little glyphosate 11.3 ng/g is:
Glyphosate is commonly detected at these low levels in both organic and non-organic foods. In fact, the minuscule levels of these chemicals that were detected in both the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger were less than 1/1000 the limit set by EPA for glyphosate residue in dried pea (8,000 ppb) and soybeans (20,000 ppb), respectively. They were even almost 100-fold lower than the glyphosate limits set by USDA for ORGANIC certification of pea protein (400 ppb) and soy protein (1,000 ppb) – ie, the glyphosate levels measured in both products would easily pass the glyphosate-residue requirements for organic certification of soybeans or peas, respectively.
What does 11.3 ppb [=11.3 ug/kg] mean in terms of howmuch glyphosate plus AMPA would be present in one4-oz.(113g) serving of Impossible Burger? The answer is1.3 micrograms [11.3 ug/1000g x 113g].
This is almost 1000 times lower than the no significant risk level for glyphosate ingestion (1100 micrograms per day) set by California Prop 65. The safe daily limits for glyphosate exposure set by FAO/WHO and the EPA are much higher.
In response to the group’s claim that “Only 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has been shown to alter the gene function of over 4000 genes in the livers, kidneys and cause severe organ damage in rats,” Impossible exposes their blatant innumeracy:
This is not even close to correct. In fact, it’s wrong by a factor of almost a million-fold! The paper cited by Honeycutt demonstrates that the lowest glyphosate concentration that could inhibit any of the bacteria testedwas actually 0.075 mg/ml for Bifidobacterium adolescent (see Table 2). 0.075 mg/ml is 75,000 ppb, not 0.1 ppb. (It appears that MAA rounded up from .075 mg/ml to .1 mg/ml and then confused — or intentionally misrepresented — mg/ml for ppb when in fact 1 mg/ml = 1,000,000 ppb).
In response to Moms Across America’s claim that glyphosate has been shown to be carcinogenic, Impossible states:
“Proven to be carcinogenic” is a ridiculous claim, refuted by multiple government agencies, including EFSA, Germany, Canada, and the World Health Organization (WHO), who determined that glyphosate exposure in the human diet is unlikely a carcinogenic risk. No regulatory authority in the world considers glyphosate to be carcinogenic to humans at current exposure levels.
Apparently aiming to outdo themselves with each sentence, Moms Across America made the laughable claim that approval of glyphosate is harmful to farm animals, since its sprayed on the crops they eat:
Glyphosate herbicide is also widely sprayed on animal feed, which harms the health of animals, so supporting the use of this herbicide by consuming the Impossible Burger and other non-organic products is an animal welfare issue as well.
Impossible again pulls no punches in calling out this idiocy:
Unfathomably illogical. How is it possible that consuming a plant-based Impossible Burger, instead of a burger made from the carcass of cows, “harms the health of animals”? Setting aside the inherent absurdity of this claim, the amount of glyphosate and other herbicides and pesticides applied to the crops fed to the cows to produce a typical American burger is more than five times higher than the amount applied to the soy used to produce the equivalent Impossible Burger.
There are several other rebuttals that Impossible issues to Moms Across America’s arguably-libelous claims, and the entire document is worth a read.
It appears that this group was motivated to go after Impossible because of their unapologetic use of GMOs — in particular, their soy leghemoglobin, the crucial ingredient that gives the burger its meaty profile, is genetically modified.
We can expect more clashes between the “health-oriented” folks and the technology-driven companies aiming to remove animals from the food supply.
I know whose team I’m on.
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