Safety, Sustainability of ‘Clean Meat’ Questioned
June 29, 2018

Friends of the Earth – an environmental advocacy network with member organizations in 74 countries – released a report this week questioning the research that’s gone into establishing the safety and sustainability of lab-grown meat and GMO protein.

The nonprofit said there’s a need for federal regulators or an independent, third-party group to assess industry claims that food ingredients created using genetic engineering and in vitro processes are market ready and less damaging to the environment than traditional, farm-based systems.

“There are increasing concerns and questions that remain unanswered, and existing analyses show that these products may be problems masquerading as solutions,” the report said.

The report cited startup organizations such as Impossible Foods, which makes a “bleeding” veggie burger that’s now being sold in restaurants around the country. Using Impossible Foods as their case study, Friends of the Earth’s researchers found that manufacturing soy leghemeglobin – the protein that gives the Impossible Burger its meat-like taste and texture – leads to 46 additional engineered proteins, all of which haven’t been assessed for safety. Impossible Foods released its own study in 2017 stating that its products are sustainable and safe for consumption.

The report was released on the same day the U.S. House Research and Development Caucus held Congress’ first-ever briefing on lab-grown meat, also known as clean meat. The fledgling sector has received hundreds of millions in investments from individuals such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, along with meat industry giants Cargill and Tyson.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that clean meat falls completely under its purview. This was the first move in a burgeoning turf war with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has also made clear it plans to have a role in the oversight of the growing industry.

To read the entire report from Friends of the Earth, visit