The Impossible Burger. Photo via Forbes.

Is “Food-Tech” the Future of Food?

by Dana Perls, senior food and technology campaigner

All of these products make use of new, experimental genetic engineering techniques that are raising many questions for consumers, farmers and environmentalists.

These new genetically engineered (GE) foods — which some call “GMOs 2.0” — are quickly entering our food system. The techniques involve new methods of genetically engineering organisms like algae to produce replacements for plant and animal-based food ingredients, or engineering DNA to turn genes on or off, or delete them altogether. You might also hear phrases like “fermentation,” synthetic biology or gene editing, but these new ingredients all involve genetic engineering — and they are almost never labeled as such.

The Arctic Apple, which has been genetically engineered not to brown. Photo credit: Okanagan Specialty Fruits via The Washington Post

Companies introducing these new GMOs to the market are essentially self-regulated and are asking consumers to blindly trust them.

But given their experience with the first generation of GMOS, will consumers feel them worthy of their trust?

Organic, sustainable food. Photo via Flickr Creative Commons.

As Beth Kowitt wrote in Fortune magazine in 2015, “It’s pretty simple what people want now: simplicity… less of the ingredients they can’t actually picture in their head.”

Do we really want to produce our food with patented, gene-edited fungi or algae, fed with chemical-intensive, environmentally destructive feedstocks such as GMO corn or sugarcane, and made in labs? Or do we want to move towards a food system based on transparency and truly regenerative, organic agriculture that is sustainable and healthy for farmers, farmworkers, our planet, and consumers?

What do we want the future of our food system to look like, and shouldn’t we all have a say in that?

Friends of the Earth U.S. defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world. www.foe.org