What Makes the “Impossible Burger” Possible?

Behind the approval of the plant-based burger that will be hitting store shelves soon. Action Alert!
Plant-based meat products seem to be all the rage. They are billed as a healthier, more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional meat, and the fad is catching on. Fast-food giant Burger King has announced the “Impossible Whopper,” a meatless version of their popular sandwich. What you probably haven’t been told is that these plant-based meats are made possible through a new form of genetic engineering that has undergone virtually no safety testing. Once again, the American consumer will be Big Food’s guinea pig—unless we speak up.
The Impossible Burger is able to give the impression of “bleeding” like real meat because it releases a compound called heme. Heme is found naturally in beef and is released during the cooking process. Heme can also be sourced from soy plants, specifically the roots, but it isn’t sustainable: it takes one acre of soy to produce just one kilogram of soy heme. To circumvent this problem, Impossible Foods, the manufacturer of the Impossible Burger, creates heme through synthetic biology (synbio).
Here’s how it works. The genetic code for the heme protein is inserted into genetically modified yeast. The yeast is then fed so it grows, replicates, and manufactures heme.
The FDA recently approved this synbio “heme” as a color additive, which means that the Impossible Burger can hit supermarket shelves. (Note: the approval of heme was only relevant to selling the burgers raw in supermarkets—restaurants did not need heme to be approved by the FDA to serve cooked plant-based burgers.)
Has “heme” produced in this way been tested for safety? Has it been confirmed that this method of producing the compound will not lead to allergic reactions? No. But that hasn’t prevented the FDA from giving the green light in yet another capitulation to Big Food.
This goes far beyond the Impossible Burger. A wide range of biopharmaceutical compounds have been produced by using yeast synthetic biology, including antimicrobials (penicillin), pain killers (hydrocodone, opioids), antioxidants (resveratrol, B-carotene, lycopene), and even snake venom. Dairy and egg products created through synthetic biology are also being investigated. Why spend all the time and energy to source these compounds from the natural world when souped-up, genetically modified yeast can be programmed to manufacture them for you?
Given the embarrassingly narrow definition of what constitutes a GMO that has been adopted by the federal government, none of the foods produced using synbio will have to be labeled as “bioengineered.” We’ll have a wave of new foods coming to the market, without any safety testing, and without being clearly labeled that they were produced using genetic engineering. This is unacceptable.
Action Alert! Tell Congress and the FDA that “heme” produced with synbio must be adequately tested before it is released to the public. Please send your message immediately.


  1. GMO products are high in deuterium and are anti-health. Narrowly defining what makes GMO does not change the disastrous effects of fake foods.

  2. We gave ruined American wheat and created allergic reactions by millions of people. Now we are adding heme and other dake sources into the food. Monsanto et al have won. Fight back. No GMO.

  3. For God’s sake, we are not guinea pigs. This obvious pandering of the FDA to big business is getting out of hand. This product needs to be tested first like any other product, before releasing it upon the public.

  4. The “heme” WAS tested on mice; needlessly twice. Plant based foods are vital in saving our planet. This article is complete crap. You need to do research before trying to poison people against veganism or plant based products.

    1. Why do you “think” testing it on mice, if it actually was done, means it is safe for human consumption? As a student of history, I know our government has lied to us more times than we can fit in a 20 volume old style encyclopedia, and that would just cover from the 20th Century onward. Also, is not that cruel and “inhumane” to those helpless rodents.

  5. The “heme” produced with synbio must be adequately tested before it is released to the public.
    The processing of the food we eat should be transparent so we understand what we’re putting in our bodies. How are we to understand our allergens or choose not bio-engineered food if it isn’t clear how something is made? This food needs to be fully tested so we know what we’re eating.

  6. Why? Why can’t anyone be honest anymore? There is no integrity in anything that is done ‘for’ the public. Only profit.

  7. It is imperative that all the various ingredients in Impossible Burgers” be test appropriately.before human consumption!!
    This practice of non testing the ingredients could be very detrimental to the public.
    WhT companies are being paid off to let these out in the public before testing!!

  8. Putting food out there for us to purchase without being clearly identified of what it has for ingredients is unacceptable

  9. We the people are extremely dissatisfied by the absolute failure of government to keep our food supply safe. Congress is pretty much a joke to the public, and we aren’t laughing. STOP allowing frankenfood into the food supply. Long term, unbiased testing should be mandatory.

  10. It could be 10-20-30 yrs before problems with these things are identified…. meanwhile what kind of damage is being done to humans who eat it? And consider GMOs and all the chemicals used by agribusiness currently that we humans can’t tell what poisons or modifications have been used to produce.
    Humans really should eat real food, all vegan if they want, etc..but not GMOs or manufactured copies of real food. Here is my basic question…. IF you don’t want to eat animal products stop eating anything made from plants that are called burgers, etc.. those are terms used for animal products.

  11. Get real people! There is NO reason for this lack of responsibility to mankind. There are ways to be responsible for food provided…our bodies were not meant to eat this non-food…look at the increase in cancer and odd diseases since all this started!! I did and it’s so obvious what’s happening!! Be human…care…it’s your families health as well. Make your children be proud of you for doing the right thing or carry the burden and heartache for all that will be sick or die because of Frankenfood.

  12. All in government need to serve citizen interests first, not organizations, corporations, government, nor any other interests. FDA and many other federal agencies and individuals are not constitutional Any who fail to protect and defend our Constitution must be removed from government service/em-ployment. We the People are the primary human source of power, not politicians nor bureaucrats.

  13. All in government need to serve citizen interests first, not organizations, corporations, government, nor any other interests. FDA and many other federal agencies and individuals are not constitutional Any who fail to protect and defend our Constitution must be removed from government service/em-ployment. We the People are the primary human source of US power, not politicians nor bureaucrats.

  14. The marketing of the Impossible Burger as “environmentally friendly” is just that-a marketing spin. Not true, not so. I will NEVER buy this product.


  16. I urge you to require that “heme” produced with synbio must be adequately tested before it is released to the public. The Impossible burger is GMO and needs to be tested and/or labeled.

  17. To have the FDA seal of approval a product must be thoroughly tested. Otherwise the sel is meanigless.

  18. Just like our President doesn’t want Fake News. My household doesn’t want FAKE FOOD!

  19. Let’s do away with ALL SOLENT GREEN FOOD.
    They dump tons of waste into the bay.
    Like the Greedy Tech Companies, they sell buy Emotionalism, NOT FACTS OR REALITY.
    Evil they are.
    Sustainable living compounds
    All the Environmental buzz words mean the exact opposite.
    FDA, FCC. Steal our money and do not do their jobs.
    The apathetic Americans, except the destroyers paid by Soros, just let this crap go on.
    Where are the Real Liberals!? Antifa is a Violent Fascist Regime, as Are Most of the Democrat Party and RINOS.
    Posing as good. Just like biotech poison.
    Wake Up
    PC Propaganda is from the pit of Hell
    You may not believe in G-D, Creator, Source, but it believes in you.
    PC has hardened hearts to the Truth.

  20. It just seems to me that this is only going to end one way, and I don’t see it as good. Why are we so inclined to allow this without proper testing? Is there some underlying, unreleasable, reason why we should be in such a rush to test this on humans through a Burger-joint? Of course, if I’m so darned smart, why am I poor?
    Have a Blessed Day

  21. Anything made by synbio or GMO such as the impossible burger should be required to be labeled. I should not have to eat this garbage if I choose not to. I’m not a willing guinea pig for these companies science experiments. These products have not been tested long term on humans no one knows if they are safe.

  22. This is very sad, and totally unacceptable.
    Big Food is a part of the American Oligarchy,
    which has total control, now. The illusion of
    Democracy is becoming increasingly faint.

  23. If you mean by “Impossible Burger,” a burger there is no possibility I’m ever going to eat it, then, OK. Besides this freaky meat being made by genetic modification, it also contains a ton of glyphosate. Yummy. Not.

  24. I received a reply the last time I sent an email. Concerning heme and the answer was very disingenuous, telling only part of the story I believe more testing is necessary before this product is on the market

  25. Letting these foods on te market is disgraceful, and a detriment to our health. It’s a step backward.

  26. I am hesitant to try these products and I am vegan (plant based). When I look at the ingredients on these products I see too many chemicals and since I am not a chemist, I do not know what these chemicals are. I prefer to make my “meat” products from scratch when I make them which is not often.

  27. It is absolutely criminal that you would ever release ANY genetically modified product for public consumption without thoroughly testing it beforehand. DO NOT release “heme” produced with symbio before you do the due diligence that every citizen deserves.

  28. This simply will not do for something I would want to eat, let alone promote for human or animal consumption. Do the necessary unbiased test please, and find out everything that could possibly be wrong with this sad idea.

  29. “heme” produced with synthetic biology must be adequately tested before it is released to the public.

  30. It is deplorable that Congress and the FDA are much more concerned about Big Business than they are the safety of the consumer. Please do not release more of this synthetically produced “meat” on the public without proper safety testing. We are tired of being used as guinea pigs.

  31. The FDA should adequately test this artificial food in a pretender burger before it is sole to the public!

  32. “Has it been confirmed that this method of producing the compound will not lead to allergic reactions? No.”
    This is not a correct standard. It’s possible to become allergic to near anything, and is therefore impossible to make something allergy free. People eat yeast and people eat soy. Some have allergies to either/both. Do soy and yeast require special testing for this. No. They obviously don’t need it.
    The use of synthetic biology to prepare medicines is arguably evidence that the method itself is sound. Can synthetic biology be used to make allergens? Sure. Is it likely that soy leguhemoglobin causes allergies in lots of people? No.
    All that said, I see no harm in people knowing how their food is made. Impossible foods has been very forthcoming in this regard, more than others. It’s important the public be educated about how these methods work.
    Also important to recognize that newer synthbio techniques are infinitely more precise than traditional breeding methods which severely mutate organisms…

    1. By traditional breeding methods, I mean primitive GMO. All our foods have been GMOd over time…and it’s important to understand the difference in the methods used.

  33. On The Rickety And Error Filled Path Of Forced Human Lab Enriched Evolution… What Will “Some” Of Us Become?

  34. Please efficiently label all of these new products to consumers , as GMO‘s And test for safety

  35. The lack of proper testing of laboratory-originated foods is unconscionable. Do we do this with new drugs? Not if we follow the law! These people should be imprisoned – both the manufacturers and the government agents permitting this!

  36. But HEME is just a well known chemical formula Heme | C34H32FeN4O4 – PubChem and is a ring like porphyrin [ a class of pigments (including heme and chlorophyll) whose molecules contain a flat ring of four linked heterocyclic groups, sometimes with a central metal atom, iron in the case of heme]
    So what’s to be alarmed about unless there’s no purification process [can’t imagine that] so the gmo yeast is just as simple as if the lab was rigging a set of test-tubes and bunsen burners and whatever to manufacture heme…
    Granted the industry has a bad reputation for doing slithering stuff behind the scenes and misleading the public, so some cautionary principle might be to demand PROOF OF THE PURITY,,,, TTYL

  37. I am well aware of all the issues rather intentionally negatively described in the article. The Impossible Burger is not meant to be a whole, natural food. It’s still an essential food to get people away from eating animals. It’s 1000% better than eating animal flesh burgers. The people eating these are not going to forgo eating meat for lentils, tofu, or any of the other plant foods we have come to love and depend upon. If you’re going to vilify the Impossible Burger than please also be truthful about the animal flesh burgers people have been eating. There are hundreds of toxins that make their way through the food chain into animals, many drugs including antibiotics (some called something else) given to farmed animal out of necessity, and substances needed to keep their flesh from decaying more than the minimal after slaughter, because animals’ flesh starts to decay the moment they’re killed.
    I’m fine with the GMO yeast used to create soy leghemoglobin. I’ve realized that we are a completely technology-dependent species. While some forms of technology are destroying us and the planet, other forms of technology are being used to help save us.

  38. Heme produced and synbio must be fully tested before released for public consumption. Do all you can. Thank you.

  39. Heme produced with synbio should and must be tested BEFORE being released to people. We are not and should not be guinea pigs. Every item which is for sale as a food item needs to be labeled for what it really is.

  40. You can never tell what restaurants are serving you unless they advertise that they are serving only Organic, Non-GMO foods. That is why I do not go out to restaurants anymore. You have to go to your favorite restaurants and ask if they have even one dish on their menu that is 100% organic. If not and it is not common at all, just say thanks and leave. After awhile if they get enough request they will start to provide at least one 100%organic dish. Dishes w some organic ingredients when they can get them is not good enough. The more we as consumers demand that restaurants report and provide 100% organic, non-gmo dishes on their menus the more likely we are to get better quality food when we do go out. But be aware that you will probably have to pay more for real, non-toxic food.

  41. Quite honestly anything that lessens the animal agriculture business is a good thing. They slip so many things by anyway I have to say I don’t care! Far too much has been made of this and as a vegan I am quite glad to have anything that makes carnivores change their evil ways!

  42. Rather than making attempts to stop such bioengineering one case at a time, perhaps we would be better served by passing laws requiring far more labelling than we have now, including ‘natural’ or not, antibiotic fed or not, what herbicides, insecticides, and other chemicals are used on plants, and what kinds of food did the animals eat. Add in the country of origin, whether it was farmed or wild, and every other fact that might indicate the quality and safety of the food. Once we have such labelling in place, free market will take care of a lot of the problems.

  43. congress and the FDA need to adequately tested “heme” produced with synbio before being released to the public. It is receckless to release this without adequately testing!

  44. Please don’t let anything go to market that has not been tested and PROVEN safe.

  45. I tried the impossible burger. It’s ok but I like the Garden Burger better. After reading this, I think I will not be eating it again.

  46. Yet another potentially unhealthy/dangerous product pushed onto the American public without adequate safety testing. We are tired of being guinea pigs for Big Ag.

  47. The FDA is repeatedly guilty of rushing products from foods to drugs to market without adequate testing. It is known that in the case of drugs that a lot of money changes hands to facilitate early approval of dangerous drugs. The FDA is supposed to protect the public, not to sell our health to the highest bidder. Heme produced with synbio is yet another danger to the public, due to inadequate testing.

  48. How can the FDA approve a food product that hasn’t even undergone safety testing. Does this agency work for the people or big business?

  49. Several new foods that have been genetically modified are about to be sold without being safety tested and without being labeled. That’s outrageous. Also “heme” produced with synbio must be properly tested before being put on the market.

  50. Give me a break! Do you lobby for meat producers? Red meat is a proven danger for the human body ( heart attacks, cholesterol, etc).
    Plant-based products are the planet’s salvation, not to speak of animal rights.
    I’ll take yeast any day over slaughtered flesh

    1. You are clearly uninformed as to the necessary amino acids, proteins and higher omega 3’s available to humans from consuming grass fed/finished beef. It’s the quality of the meat not the quantity that fuels the human body. Feed cattle clean grasses and you get a much higher quality. Let nature take its course. Keep our food out of the laboratory!

  51. I for one will never even try such a product. I hope all the vegans out there use better judgement also!

  52. Stop messing around with natures way of producing foods that our bodies recognize. I say NO to synobio anything!!!!!

  53. People have allergic reactions to Bakers and Brewers Yeast. Some can be fatal. Using Yeast in the vegetable meatless patty should be tested or at least carry a warning similar to Peanut and Nut allergies which have warnings.

  54. Testing new food substances should be done before its on the market. Do not use the public as your lab subjects. I refuse to purchase these GMO products until you do proper studies.

  55. Why wouldn’t our country want to give the same testing and standards that we assume is being done for all our foods. Is non meat a reason to not test for the safety of people. It seems crazy and disturbing, to say the least, to not make sure the foods sold and produced are all healthy products.

  56. At the very least, products containing “heme” must be labeled as containing a bioengineered ingredient.

  57. I am angered and extremely concerned at the obvious denial of the right of Americans to know the source of our foods. Every product that is for sale which contains bioengineered (GMO) ingredients MUST be labelled in a way that is easy for consumers to read.
    Additionally, new products should never be released for sale or consumption without complete testing for side effects and overall healthfulness. So many peer reviewed and accepted studies are showing that GMOs lead to lack of nutrition, toxicity, and side effects.
    You must stop rubber stamping approvals of these products based on greed, and instead look to the future of human and environmental health.

  58. Regarding your website, light gray typefaces on a white background may be cool, but they can’t be read easily. If your writing is important, it is important that it be legible. Illegible typefaces make people like me think your organization is run by childish fools. I know that is not the case, so tell your web designer not to make your message hard to read, or get a new job.

  59. We don’t need another highly processed food loaded with pesticides and GMO ingredients. We have a right to know what is in the food we feed ourselves and our families, especially our children.

  60. The U.S. should adopt the Precautionary Principle to all new chemical and biological synthetics, and keep them off market and out of the environment generally until they have been rigorously tested for safety by agencies that have no vested interest in seeing their deployment.

  61. Does anyone remember the movie starring Charlton Heston; called “Soilent Green” ??? Will they stop identifying each in a year. What chemicals are they using to produce the “taste”?

  62. The question is, how does this product affect fertility and vitality? The people who made this are part of the eugenics club.

  63. It should be against the law to be used time and again as lab rats without our knowledge
    our approval. This means a lot more profit and faster too for the rich corporate owners who I’m
    sure will not be using any of their products until they have been thoroughly tested by the lab

  64. I’d like to add my name to the list of people urging our Congress and FDA to make sure that “Heme” produced with symbiotic be adequately tested before releasing this to the public. Releasing such a thing without adequate safety testing is making Guinea Pigs out of an unsuspecting pubic. Please reconsider the release of such an experimental food until proven safe.

  65. Before the federal government’s FDA approves one more product which isn’t natural, but claims to be good for our planet and humans, PLEASE INVESTIGATE and DENY such engineered crap from being produced and marketed.
    Such deception should not be green lighted by any republic anywhere on Earth.

  66. I want the government to test heme and other synbio products! at the very least label them.

  67. More fake food to make me have to look closely at what I buy!
    Fake food,High Fruitcose Corn Syrup sends me to the doctors, it tries to kill me. It is in almost EVERYTHING.! Now I have to keep pills with me, and read every label before eating.
    Restaurants war worse. You can’t read what they are feeding you.

  68. One step forward (reducing beef consumption) …and two steps back (normalizing synbio, risking public health).
    I’ve been a vegan. I’m all for alternative diet choices, but we did not evolve to eat this stuff.
    Is it potentially harmful? We can’t know for sure without proper testing… or until enough consumers are harmed by it. …Which saves somebody money only in the short-term.
    Does the FDA care? When there’s money to be lost by Big Pharma, we can count on the FDA to crack down on alternatives. When there’s money to be made by Big Food, we can count on the FDA to look the other way.
    The FDA is charged with minimizing risk to the American consumer, not green-lighting every profitable use of human beings as lab rats. This latest fad food is aimed directly at millennials and the health-conscious, both of whom are critically important to our future solvency. Of all the groups to target, these are the last they should mess with.
    I’ve seen the ads and almost took the bait. I’m glad to have been properly informed so I can avoid this stuff and counsel others to do the same. I hope it is not too late to escape the consequences, as it has been with other additives in the past.

  69. I am a person who needs to know if these products are safe because I look forward to eating them.
    Thank you!

  70. The government, once again, proves the theory that they don’t care about us at all….just the dollar and power! Just another front to weaken the country…and world!

  71. At the very least, these foods should be well labeled as bioengineered, GMO products. Testing needs to be mandatory before anyone puts them in their mouths.

  72. What is ta he point of FDA is they are not protecting us from products that will harm us or eventually take our lives! Why not do what use to be done, Don’t Allow these products to be Released to the Public until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe.

    1. They did approve Impossible Burger and all of it s ingredients and processes. The article is false. We need to find a new source of accurate, factual and unbiased information.Bery disappointed and am letting them know it.

  73. Your hysteria is unfounded, has no basis of fact and mars any credibility. Many GMO’s are safe and good for humanity and the planet in MANY situations. If you’ve ever taken cellular or molecular science, you would understand the safe and beneficial merits that include saving lives. If you haven’t, the onus is on you to discuss this topic with experts in the field for an educated dissemination of information. This article relies heavily on (unwarranted) alarmism …for clicks? …for pay by the meat industry? Hard work has gone into developing these products in order to help carnivores migrate to a sustainable future for our planet and it’s inhabitants. There is no room for your alarmist conjecture. Fundamentally, you have (purposely?) convinced readers not to try or buy healthy alt meat products. You don’t even have the correct product image for the product you pretend to know about and create fear-mungering over. I’ll be informing both companies of your decision to misrepresent their products. Unfounded hysteria is a menace to real journalism, and in this situation a menace to a more sustainable, healthier future.

  74. Any half hearted advocate of health will understand the basic rule of nutrition. Less is more. You can look at the ingredients of plant based burgers and see a list of fake ingredients. Beef has one simple ingredient; beef. The theory that eating plant based burgers will save the planet should be advertised next to the sea monkeys in comic books.

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