*SAMPLE TEXT TO YOUR STATE LAWMAKERS*
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Dear State Lawmaker,
Did you hear that Italy is set to become the first country to protect agriculture by banning synthetic biology from food production?
We should do that in our state!
Synthetic biology is an extreme form of genetic engineering that is being used to make fake meat and imitation dairy. The industry calls it “precision fermentation,” genetically engineering microbes to produce synthetic proteins and unique molecules unknown to nature.
The Impossible Burger and Bored Cow “milk” made with Perfect Day’s synthetic “whey” proteins are two products that are already being sold in stores and restaurants.
This production method isn’t regulated and it is very dangerous.
In the 1980s, Showa Denko, a manufacturer of the amino acid tryptophan, accidentally poisoned thousands of its customers with a synthetic version made from genetically engineered bacteria. Showa Denko killed 37 people and caused 1500 to be permanently disabled.
Showa Denko’s genetically engineered tryptophan contained a highly toxic contaminant that comprised less than 0.1% of the total weight of the product, yet that was enough to kill people. This contaminant was identified as a dimerization product of tryptophan–two molecules of tryptophan chemically linked together. This compound was generated when the concentration of tryptophan within the bacteria reached such high levels that tryptophan molecules or their precursors began to react with each other, generating the deadly toxin. Being chemically quite similar to tryptophan, the toxin was not easily separated from tryptophan and contaminated the final commercial product.
Genetic engineering generated the Showa Denko toxin. The toxin was not present in the original, non-genetically engineered Showa Denko tryptophan or in tryptophan produced by other manufacturers using natural bacteria.
Showa Denko eventually paid more than one billion dollars to victims and their survivors, but they tried to cover up their mistakes by destroying all samples of the genetically engineered organism as soon as the problem was recognized.
There is no required regulatory process for foods made from genetically engineered microbes, but some manufacturers submit information to the Food and Drug Administration in support of self-designated Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status.
Perfect Day’s GRAS submission has a number of alarming things in it:
ALLERGENS - The level of T. reesei (the genetically engineered microorganism that produces the synthetic protein) in the product are up to 6.7%. Three T. reesei proteins showed some similarity (ranging from 35-42%) to known allergens (Cryptomeria, Juniperus; Penicillium chrysogenum; House dust mites).
HEAVY METALS -
Arsenic 16.8 ppb (There is no safe level of arsenic. The EPA takes action when water samples are over 10 ppb.)
Lead 59.3 ppb (There is no safe level of lead. The EPA takes action when water samples are over 15 ppb.)
And, yet, the FDA sent Perfect Day a “no questions” letter!
GRAS is a failed process that lets companies claim that new synthetic Frankenfoods are the same as normal foods and are exempt from pre-market safety testing. But, even this is voluntary!
This means we have no way to find out what new synthetic Frankenfoods are entering the food supply or what the risks of eating them might be.
Impossible Foods, makers of the Impossible Burger, is not yet allowed to sell its products in the European Union.
Impossible Foods’ soy leghemoglobin is produced from genetically engineered yeast. Because Impossible Foods’ final product contains proteins from that yeast, it is regulated in the E.U. as a GMO.
The company submitted its dossier for regulatory approval in October 2019. A decision could be ready by the end of 2023.
Most people have no idea that genetically engineered yeast are being used to create synthetic “foods” or what the risks of this might be.
The only responsible thing to do is ban this technology from the food system.