New GMO Alert: Plant-Based “Meat” made with GMOs – November, 2021

How was your plant-based “meat” made?

More than ever, consumers are turning to plant-based meat alternatives as a way to show their solidarity with nature and their commitment to more sustainable practices. However, it’s important to note that some of these products are made with GMOs, and more are likely on the way. When ingredients are made using biotechnology, including genetically engineered microorganisms (commonly referred to  as “synbio” — short for synthetic biology), they are considered GMOs by the Non-GMO Project Standard. 

That “meaty” flavor? GMO microorganisms

First, there was the Impossible™ Burger, with its synbio leghemoglobin, or heme, the product of a genetically engineered yeast that is designed to mimic the flavor and aroma of meat in a plant-based burger. Now, Motif FoodWorks, has announced the result of a limited-time promotion carried out at the Dallas, Texas, location of the eatery CoolGreens, which took place between May and July 2021. 

The event consisted of the introduction of two plant-based meat analog sandwiches that featured two new Motif FoodWorks products: Hemami™, a synbio myoglobin ingredient that provides an umami flavor, and Appetex™, which simulates the texture and mouthfeel of meat. Motif FoodWorks reports that it has submitted its FDA  application to be designated as Generally Recognized as Safe, or GRAS, for the synbio Hemami™. The determination is pending.

Those animal-free dairy proteins and fat? Same.
As part of the promotion, Motif FoodWorks solicited feedback from consumers in order to inform the development of ingredients going forward. Future products could include synbio animal-free dairy proteins and animal fats. The company anticipates that Hemami™ will be commercially available by the end of 2021, with Appetex™ becoming available the following year

More likely on the way

Motif FoodWorks is a subsidiary of Gingko Bioworks, the developer of custom-engineered organisms, and was founded as an ingredient innovation company.

Other companies are also developing products to enhance the flavor and texture of plant-based meat analogs. Melt & Marble, a Swedish company, recently raised €750,000 in seed funding to develop synbio animal-free animal fats through the genetic engineering of yeast ( The company’s ultimate goal is for these bespoke fats to be used in plant-based products to make them taste more like their meat counterparts. Melt & Marble hopes to debut a prototype of its first product – a “beef-like” fat – by the end of 2021. 


The Non-GMO Project’s Standard defines all crops and products developed using biotechnology, including new gene-editing techniques, as GMOs. We share this information to further one of the Project’s primary goals of creating greater transparency in the supply chain, ensuring you have the information you need to make the best choices for you, your brand, and your family. 

Please note that the information herein is for general informational purposes only and is based on the linked sources above.