NonGMO Project GMO food verification logo orange
Different types of sugar on gray background
Move over synbio stevia; there are new GMO sweeteners in town

The stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) features leaves that contain sweetness compounds known as rebaudiosides, or Rebs for short. Each Reb has a slightly different flavor profile. When extracted from the stevia leaf, they combine to create a sweetener that has a slightly bitter, and often unpopular, aftertaste.  Various brands of synthetic biology (synbio) stevia have been on the market for a number of years and were developed, in part, to address this drawback. Through synbio, developers have been able to select and recreate the sweetest Rebs (e.g., Reb M), of the stevia plant while leaving the other, more bitter Rebs behind.

But in the ever-expanding quest for low- or no-calorie sweeteners, biotechnology developers are now turning their attention to creating new sweetness proteins that mimic those present in less common fruit, such as fruit from the West African oubli and katemfe plants, which are known for their intense sweetness. Some of these novel proteins provide sweetness on their own; others are taste modifiers that are not sweet in their own right but affect sweetness receptors to make foods taste more sweet.

This new group of sweetness and taste-modifying proteins includes brazzein, thaumatin, curculin, mabinlin, and miraculin. Most are being developed using synbio, also known as precision fermentation, but at least one developer is using molecular farming. Here’s a brief overview of some of these developers.

Joywell Foods
Joywell Foods (Joywell) is a developer of synbio sweetness proteins that has been working in this space since 2014. Some of the proteins in its portfolio include thaumatin I and II, brazzein, pentadin, curculin, mabinlin, monellin, and miraculin. In June, Joywell announced that it had raised $25 million to bring a line of beverages sweetened with its synbio proteins to market. The Series B funding round was led by Piva Capital with participation from Evolve Ventures (Kraft Heinz VC), IndieBio, Khosla Ventures, and others. Flavor profiles for the beverages include lemon lime, cherry ginger, and mint berry. At this time, it is unknown which of Joywell’s sweetness proteins will be used in the beverages or how they will be listed on ingredient panels.

It is interesting to note that in February of 2021, Joywell Foods sent a GRAS submittal for various forms of miracle fruit (miraculin) to the FDA but then several months later, in September, requested that the FDA cease its evaluation of the submittal after the FDA had raised a number of issues.

Conagen/Sweegen
Conagen and its partner Sweegen have announced the commercial launch of a new synbio sweetness protein, brazzein. The protein will be marketed under the brand name Ultratia™. Sweegen plans to launch the synbio sweetener by the end of the year but did not reveal the specific products that would feature the new protein. At the end of 2021, Conagen revealed that it was preparing to submit GRAS paperwork to the FDA. The ingredient will reportedly be listed on ingredient panels as brazzein.

Amai Proteins
Amai Proteins (Amai), an Israeli biotechnology developer, uses a computational protein design platform to create novel synbio sweetness proteins. Amai was recently named the global winner of the 2022 XTC  Extreme Tech Challenge for its work and hopes to launch its sweetness proteins within the year. The company’s first product will be branded sweelin™.

Brain Biotech/Roquette
Brain Biotech is a German company that specializes in the use of CRISPR and precision fermentation  (i.e., synbio). The company entered into an agreement with the French company Roquette in 2021 to produce a synbio brazzein sweetness protein. The partnership stemmed from their collaboration as part of the DOLCE Research Program, whose mission was to provide next-generation sweetness solutions. The companies plan to initially target the beverage industry.

Nomad Bioscience/Nambawan Biotech 
Nomad Biosciences (Nomad) is a German biotechnology company that develops antibacterial biologics for medicine, food antibacterials, and sweet and taste-modifying proteins.Working with its spinoff company, Nambawan Biotech, Nomad has developed and commercialized thaumatin II, which is intended for use in food and beverages. Nomad uses molecular farming to produce thaumatin and other proteins in tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) and other crops. The company has submitted paperwork and achieved GRAS status for nine protein events.

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.

October is Non-GMO Month!🦋

New GMO Alert – Purple Tomato Recently Approved for U.S. Import and Cultivation
Eat two tomatoes and call me in the morning

As new GMO techniques such as CRISPR are making it easier and cheaper to genetically modify plants, researchers are expanding their focus to manipulate different types of crops, those that fall outside of what we have come to identify as likely being GMO, such as corn, soy, cotton, sugar beet, and canola. They are also expanding the types of traits that are being engineered into these plants, with some of those traits being created in hopes of providing some sort of health benefit. One of the most popular plants du jour for this experimentation is the tomato.

The “purple tomato” was recently approved for U.S. import and cultivation by USDA/APHIS, a little over a year after the application was first submitted in July 2021. It was developed by scientists at Norfolk Plant Sciences (Norfolk), which is located at, and is a spinout of, the John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K. The tomato species Solanum lycopersicum was genetically engineered to have greater levels of anthocyanin, which is thought to have beneficial health effects. The company says about half a cup of purple tomatoes is estimated to contain the same amount of anthocyanin as half a cup of blueberries.

The transgenic tomato was modified using genetic material from the snapdragon (to control anthocyanin levels) and Arabidopsis thaliana (as a flavanol activator). Purple tomatoes aren’t new; there are over two dozen varieties of tomatoes that feature some degree of purple skin, many of them heirloom varieties. What makes this GM purple tomato distinct is that it also features purple flesh.

The purple tomato represents the first GM crop to undergo USDA/APHIS review under the new SECURE rule, which was promulgated in 2020. Thus, in addition to receiving the USDA’s stamp of approval for both import and cultivation, any future versions (i.e., events) of the purple tomato that involve the same species, traits, and mechanisms of action will not be regulated. Norfolk plans to release the tomato for sale in limited markets in 2023.

However, the purple tomato is not the first genetically modified tomato to reach the table. Sanatech Seed (Sanatech) launched the GM Sicilian Rouge GABA tomato in Japan in 2021, after the Japanese government determined that the tomato would not be regulated as a genetically modified product. Sanatech, in conjunction with scientists at the University of Tsukuba, used CRISPR to genetically modify the tomato to have high levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid thought to help manage hypertension. The tomatoes were first made available to home gardeners as seedlings and were then released for sale directly to consumers in September of last year.

Researchers at the John Innes Centre have also been working to develop GM tomatoes with other traits. It was recently reported that they had created a CRISPR “Vitamin D” tomato, boosting the amount of Vitamin D in the skin and flesh of a tomato to equal that present in two eggs. The tomato leaves were found to also contain high levels of Vitamin D3, leading researchers to speculate that the leaves could serve as a vegan source of Vitamin D3 for supplements. Researchers there are also working to create a tomato that accumulates and expresses L-DOPA, an amino acid that is used to treat Parkinson’s Disease.

In all of these instances, the tomato was likely chosen in part because of its popularity with consumers. It remains to be seen whether or to what extent the increased health benefits purported through the creation of these GM traits are ultimately realized.

That being said, these health benefit traits bring to mind Golden Rice, a crop that had been genetically modified to produce beta-carotene with the goal of addressing Vitamin A deficiency, especially in children with poor nutrition. Since its initial development in the late 1990s (GR1), and subsequent iterative event in the early 2000s (GR2E), Golden Rice has been highly controversial for a wide range of reasons – reasons beyond its GM origins – including cost; yield; and nutrient value, bioavailability, and degradation. At the present time, only one country, the Philippines, is commercially growing Golden Rice, and that process has only recently begun.

In 2018, Golden Rice (GR2E) received the approval of the FDA, but it is interesting to note that in its approval, the FDA stated that the levels of beta-carotene in GR2E rice were too low to warrant a nutrient content claim.

If the purple tomato is sold in the U.S. next year, it will be one of a few GM crops to be sold directly to consumers. Due to lack of consumer acceptance, most GMO crops such as corn and soy are marketed toward farmers. The GMO crops are then used primarily as feed for livestock or are highly processed before being sold directly to consumers.

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.


October is Non-GMO Month! Support our work in creating a more transparent food system that is better for the people and the planet. Our research team tracks hundreds of biotech companies so we can deliver you the most accurate information on emerging GMOs – because we believe everyone deserves an informed choice. Donate today!

Molecular Farming: Creating Peas that are Both Plant and Animal?

What is molecular farming? Technically, molecular farming is defined as the production of proteins and other metabolites that are considered valuable to medicine or industry in plants traditionally used in agriculture. Some have casually referred to molecular farming as synbio on steroids.

Thus, inasmuch as synbio (i.e., precision fermentation) is the genetic modification of microorganisms to exploit them for what they do naturally to create novel proteins, molecular farming is the genetic modification of plants to exploit them for what they do naturally to create novel proteins. These plants are different from traditional GMOs, which were modified to create new traits in crops, traits such as herbicide tolerance or insect resistance. Instead, through molecular farming, plants create new compounds and products.

These crops are often genetically modified to include animal DNA in order to create these novel proteins. The proteins can then be extracted from the plant once the crop is harvested for use in various applications (e.g., to make cheese). But the animal proteins can also be left in the crop for use in and to boost protein levels of the final end product. For example, think of a pea or soy crop that is modified to create meat proteins, then harvested so that the end product, the pea or soy isolate, has greater protein levels for use in a plant-based burger.

This technique is relatively new, but in the interest of transparency, below are some of the GMO developers working in this space.

Moolec Science
Located in the UK, Moolec Science (Moolec) is using molecular farming to produce animal proteins in a variety of plants, including safflower, soybean, and pea. The company’s first two products are chymosin (an enzyme used in cheesemaking) and the nutritional oil GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), both being produced in genetically modified safflower. The chymosin is marketed as Chymosin SPC, and the GLA is marketed as GLA Sonova®. The company is backed by Bioceres Crop Solutions, the developer of the genetically modified HB4 soy and HB4 wheat. The safflower was modified using a bovine protein to create the chymosin, and the GLA technology was sourced from Bioceres.

In June, Moolec announced a $504 million deal with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) LightJump Acquisition. The money will be used to accelerate the commercialization of both chymosin and GLA and expand the company’s R&D facilities. The company is now gearing up to create meat protein in soy and pea, which it plans to launch in late 2022 or early 2023. The product Poork+ features porcine proteins in soy; Beef+ features bovine proteins in pea. In addition, Moolec claims to have established contracts with seven food producers.

Pigmentum
Pigmentum is an Israeli startup that is genetically modifying Romaine lettuce to produce a variety of complex molecules, including proteins, pigments, and aromas. Under Pigmentum’s platform, the transgenic plants express the desired compounds only when an agrochemical is applied, and then the compounds are extracted post-harvest. Overall, the company plans to target the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. Initial compounds being explored include anthocyanin, vanillin, and casein. The platform also allows for the repression of specific genetic traits.

Miruku
Miruku, a New Zealand-based biotech company founded in 2020, is using molecular farming to produce proteins, fats, and sugars in unidentified plants. The company’s initial work is focused on creating dairy proteins, and it hopes to have these proteins in the marketplace within 3 years.

Nobell Foods
Nobell Foods, which is located in San Francisco, is genetically modifying soy plants with animal DNA to produce casein, a protein present in cow’s milk, with the ultimate goal of creating mozzarella and cheddar cheese. The company plans to launch its first product by the end of 2022 or in early 2023.

Tiamat Sciences
Tiamat Sciences (Tiamat) is growing its genetically modified plants using vertical farming. The company’s first product will be animal-free growth factors for cell-cultured meat, for which the company has achieved GRAS status. In 2021, Tiamat announced that it had raised $3 million in seed funding. The funds are being used to construct a pilot facility in Durham, North Carolina.

Kyomei
Based in the U.K. and spun out of work done at the University of Oxford, the newly launched Kyomei is working to genetically engineer plants to produce meat proteins. The startup’s first effort is creating bovine myoglobin in plants.

Mozza Foods
Located in Los Angeles, California, the new startup Mozza Foods and its affiliate Lovely Dairy are working to produce dairy proteins in unidentified plants in order to make mozzarella. The company hopes to bring its cheese, branded as Lovely Cheese, to market in 2025.

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.

A New Plant-Based Meat Analog – This Time with Synbio Bovine Blood Proteins

The Non-GMO Project closely monitors all food and ingredient products made using synbio (also known as precision fermentation) and has done so for a number of years. We are now seeing these products making their way into the food supply chain. Since its introduction in 2016, the Impossible™ Burger from Impossible™ Foods has had the distinction of being the only plant-based meat analog that includes a synbio ingredient. The inclusion of that ingredient, heme, which is produced by a genetically modified (GM) microorganism, marked the first merging of a synbio ingredient into a plant-based product. Well, that distinction is no more.

Motif FoodWorks™ (Motif), the food development spinoff from Ginkgo Bioworks, has now released a plant-based meat analog with its own synbio ingredient – Hemami™. Like the Impossible™ Burger, Motif’s BeefWorks™ (aka MoBeef™) burger combines a plant-based meat analog with a GM ingredient designed to create a more “meat-like” product through the inclusion of synbio “blood” proteins.

Hemami™ was launched as an ingredient in December 2021.  Although both heme and Hemami™ are the products of GM microorganisms, Motif’s source of the DNA for its GM microorganism is bovine (cow) muscle (myoglobin); Impossible™ Foods’s source of the DNA for its GM microorganism is soy root nodules (leghemoglobin). Motif’s BeefWorks™ burger also includes the company’s proprietary Appetex™, a texturizer, as an ingredient.

Motif’s burger was first introduced to consumers as part of a pilot study conducted at several Dallas-area Coolgreens eateries during the summer of 2021. With the commercial launch of BeefWorks™ earlier this year, Motif has expanded its focus in the marketplace, targeting food service, distributors, and retailers.

Motif also has ambitious plans for the future, with more products in development, including Motif BeefWorks™ ground beef (2022), Motif PorkWorks™ (aka MoPork™) (2022), and Motif ChickenWorks™ (aka MoChicken™) (2023). The company has also filed trademark applications for Motif MilkWorks™ (aka MoMilk™), Motif MoCheese™, and Motif FishWorks™ (aka MoFish™).

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.

GMO wheat

Bioceres GM HB4 Wheat Gains Traction Worldwide

Wheat is a grain fundamental to global health and food security across the world. Our breads, pastas, and other wheat-based foods take up a major portion on our plates, providing an estimated 20% of calories globally. Other principal crops such as corn and soy, which are mostly GMO, are fed to livestock -- not directly to us. Traditionally, consumer acceptance of GMO wheat has been low because we eat wheat at the dinner table. However, with war, supply chain disruption and climate change, genetically modified wheat companies are making the claim that now is the time to release patented GM wheat grains for human consumption into the market. With increased privatization in our food supply, consumers and farmers alike are concerned about consolidation, contamination, and control.

Since 2020, when Bioceres Crop Solutions (Bioceres) announced the regulatory approval of its genetically modified (GM) HB4 wheat by Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, we have been closely monitoring the progress of this crop. Argentina is Latin America’s largest producer and a significant exporter of wheat. GM HB4 wheat (IND-00412-7) was developed by Bioceres in conjunction with its research and development branch INDEAR (Instituto Nacional de Agrobiotecnologia de Rosario). The wheat was modified to be drought tolerant but is also tolerant of the herbicide glufosinate.

Despite Argentina’s initial approval of HB4 wheat in 2020, the cultivation of GM wheat in 2021 was limited to 225 farmers and approximately 55,000 ha (of a total of approximately 6.5 million ha) and was later referred to as “inventory ramp-up,” rather than commercial planting. This was mostly due to concerns regarding Brazil’s lagging approval and the potential export risks associated with contamination.

In May 2021, Bioceres announced an agreement with the Argentinian company Havanna for the latter to produce baked goods using the GM wheat. Later that year in November, after a brief delay, Brazil finally approved the sale of HB4 wheat, as well as the commercial release of flour made from the wheat, paving the way for commercial cultivation in Argentina.

In May 2022, Argentina approved the commercial cultivation of the crop for the 2022/23 planting season. This approval includes the ability to commercialize the seed as well as products derived from the wheat. However, Bioceres has stated that it will maintain its preserved identity plan and delay the commercialization of the seed until there is greater acceptance of the GM wheat and its derivatives worldwide. To that end, also in May, Bioceres received approval from  Australia and New Zealand for the sale and use of foods made with HB4 wheat.

Last month, Brazil revealed that it was testing the GM wheat in response to the global tightening of wheat markets and in an effort to become more self-sufficient. Test fields near Brasilia had been planted in March with the hope of having data on the wheat’s performance in August.

On the heels of Australia’s approval of HB4 wheat for consumption, Bioceres is planning to carry out cultivation field trials in Australia and is seeking Australia’s approval to cultivate the GM wheat by 2024. There is no word on the potential import approval of HB4 wheat by China, which is also a significant trading partner with Argentina.

It should be noted that Bioceres just received FDA approval for HB4 wheat and is awaiting USDA approval for cultivation in the U.S. No GM wheat has ever been approved for cultivation in the U.S. Monsanto conducted GM wheat field trials in the U.S. in the late 1990s and mid-2000s but voluntarily withdrew its request for cultivation approval based on the concerns of farmers and the wheat industry regarding the potential for wheat contamination and risks to international trade. In 2020, the value of US wheat exports was $6.3 billion.

The risk of contamination is real. Between 2013 and 2019, more than 10 years after the last U.S. field trial, there have been at least five reported incidents of GM wheat contamination (Oregon, 2013Montana, 2014Washington, 2016Alberta, 2018; and Washington, 2019). As a result of those contamination events, Japan and South Korea suspended the import of U.S. wheat; China, Thailand, and the Philippines tightened inspection; and the EU urged member countries to increase the import testing of wheat.

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.

New GMO Alert: Animal-Free Dairy Products to Watch Out for

Recently, animal-free dairy proteins have entered the marketplace as ingredients in a variety of food products, including milk, ice cream, and cake mix. To date, these products have featured Perfect Day’s synbio animal-free whey proteins. However, Perfect Day is not the only company developing these synbio proteins, which are produced using genetically modified microorganisms in a process often referred to as precision fermentation. It’s important to note that all products of new genetic engineering techniques, including synbio (aka precision fermentation), are defined as GMOs by the Project’s Standard.

According to a recent report by the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative, fermentation startups raked in more than $1.4B in 2021. So, further growth and expansion in the marketplace is anticipated. Below is a brief round-up of some of the other companies that are actively pursuing the development of synbio animal-free dairy proteins.

Imagindairy, an Israeli precision fermentation company, is using its proprietary synthetic biology platform to produce animal-free milk proteins. Imagindairy completed a $13M seed funding round in 2021 and then recently brought in an additional $15M in an extended seed round, for a total of $28M. The company expects to launch its animal-free milk proteins by 2023, focusing on the B2B market, with the help of strategic collaborations.

New Culture is developing animal-free dairy proteins – specifically casein proteins – in order to create animal-free cheese. In late 2021, the company raised $25M in a Series A funding round. New Culture’s goal is to release its first product, mozzarella, in select pizzerias in 2022, with wider distribution in 2023. The company has reportedly established a number of partnerships with unnamed entities to help streamline the entry of its products into the marketplace.

Change Foods is also focusing on animal-free casein, the dairy protein that provides the melting properties of cheese, as well as inputs such as lipids and aromatic compounds. The company recently completed an extended seed funding round, securing $12M, bringing their total funding to $15.3M. Change Foods is exploring the potential for partnerships in the retail and food service industries. The company plans to launch its first product in 2023.

Formo (formerly known as Legendairy Foods) is also using precision fermentation to create animal-free dairy proteins. Located in Berlin, Germany, the company is touted as being Europe’s first developer of animal-free dairy products. In the fall of 2021, Formo closed a Series A funding round that raised $50M, which was identified as a record for a European food technology company. The money is earmarked for the construction of a pilot plant and the fast-tracking of commercial production. The focus of the company is on cheese.

Remilk, another Israeli developer of synbio animal-free dairy proteins, is building what has been referred to as the world’s largest full-scale precision fermentation facility. The announcement followed the close of the company’s recent $120M Series B Funding round. The facility will be located in Kalundborg, Denmark; and Remilk anticipates that when the 750,000-sq-ft facility is completed, it will generate dairy proteins equivalent to the amount produced by 500 dairy cows. A target product release date has not been announced.

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.

Betterland Foods™ – Food that is better for whom?

Animal-free food alternatives continue to enter the marketplace with great fanfare. Many of these products are created using synthetic biology, also known as synbio, a technique that involves the genetic engineering of microorganisms to create novel ingredients that an unmodified microorganism could never produce – such as dairy or whey proteins. It’s important to note that all products of new genetic engineering techniques, including synbio, are defined as GMOs by the Project’s Standard.

A new company, Betterland Foods™, made its debut at Expo West this year. Founded by Liz Falsetto, the creator of Think!® protein bars, Betterland Foods™ has been established to partner with Perfect Day® and create products that use the synbio developer’s animal-free whey protein. The new company’s first product, Betterland Milk™, was introduced at the show.

The milk comes in two forms, whole milk and extra creamy, and is expected to launch in retail stores this summer. In addition to Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein, the milk also contains water, sunflower oil, MCT oil (a supplement made from medium-chain triglycerides, a type of fat), cane sugar, inulin, pea starch, gellan gum, locust bean gum, pea flower extract, sea salt, and natural flavors.

Despite its official “launch” at Expo West, Betterland Milk™ actually made its debut last fall when two Starbucks locations in the Seattle area initiated a trial of the novel milk product. At the time, the product was attributed to Perfect Day®.

Shortly after Expo West, Betterland Foods™ released its second product, the WOO™ candy bar. Designed to mimic a well-known chocolate, caramel, and peanut chocolate bar, the WOO™ candy bar also features Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein (listed as cow-free whey protein on the ingredient panel). Other ingredients include inulin fiber, soluble corn fiber, sunflower lecithin, gum Arabic, sunflower lecithin, and guar gum. The candy bar is currently available on the WOO™ website.

According to Betterland Foods™, we should expect a variety of “cow-free” products based on Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein to be released in the future. It is unclear to what extent future products of the independent Betterland Foods™ will be distinct from or similar to those offered by Perfect Day’s affiliated company, the Urgent Company.

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.

Is a GE heat-tolerant cow a good thing?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that a genetically engineered (GE) cow poses a low risk and does not raise any safety concerns, making it safe for human consumption. The angus cow (Bos taurus) has been engineered using CRISPR-Cas9 to be more heat-tolerant based on genetic differences identified in other breeds that are either naturally more heat-tolerant or have been cross-bred over time to be better able to thrive in warmer climates.

The heritable trait achieved through the genetic change is shorter hair, known in the industry as a slick haircoat, which reportedly enables the cow to better regulate and tolerate heat. Officially, the cow is known as the PRLR-SLICK cow, referencing both the genetic change and the trait.

The PRLR-SLICK cow was developed by Recombinetics through its subsidiary Acceligen. Recombinetics is the company that also developed the "hornless cow," which was created using TALEN. Although the hornless cow was never submitted to the FDA for a safety review, the agency accidentally discovered that the cow’s genome included remnant bacteria DNA as off-target effects, rendering the animal transgenic (i.e., an organism with the genetic material of more than one species) and subject to more significant regulatory oversight. The project was subsequently put on hold by the developer.

In comparing the genome of the PRLR-SLICK cow to that of its non-engineered parent, both Recombinetics and the FDA identified off-target effects, but the FDA determined that these effects did not pose a safety risk. Thus, the PRLR-SLICK cow has no segregation or labeling requirements. It is anticipated that meat from these animals could enter the U.S. food supply chain in about 2 years.

The FDA’s determination represents the agency’s first decision for an intentional genomic alteration (IGA) in an animal for food use under the extended Enforcement Discretion Policy, which was enacted to allow the agency to have more discretion in the enforcement of specific safety rules outlined in the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). According to Steven M. Solomon, Director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, one of the goals is to “encourage other developers to bring animal biotechnology products forward for the FDA’s risk determination in this rapidly developing field, paving the way for animals containing low-risk IGAs to more efficiently reach the marketplace.”

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.

Let them eat cake? It’s vegan— but it’s also GMO

Perfect Day and its affiliate the Urgent Company are exploring new avenues for Perfect Day’s genetically  engineered (GE), animal-free dairy and whey proteins.

Late last year, the Urgent Company released a new dessert under its Brave Robot brand: the Climate Hero Super Cake mix. The new offering is a vegan cake mix made with Perfect Day’s animal-free whey proteins as an egg substitute. The product is marketed to consumers as being better for the planet, citing both the omission of eggs and the compostable packaging.

The first product released under the Brave Robot Brand was Brave Robot ice cream, so this cake mix marks an expansion of the brand’s dessert offerings. At the moment, the yellow cake mix is available for $18 and is sold solely through the company’s website, but Brave Robot plans to eventually distribute the product through retail grocery chains.

In a related development, Perfect Day has partnered with Villa Dolce, a food service provider, to produce ready-to-bake desserts and gelato made with Perfect Day’s animal-free whey proteins. The ready-to-bake desserts will include cookie dough, pistachio cake, southern brown butter cake, and lava cake. The gelato will be available in seven flavors: sea salt vanilla & honeycomb, caramel cold brew, chocolate all’arancia, strawberry after dark, burnt caramel praline, pistachio latte, and Tahitian vanilla bean.

The new products will be available through DOT foods, a North American food industry redistributor with over 2,000 customers nationwide, including restaurants, resorts, casinos, hotels, and universities. At this time, it is unclear whether Villa Dolce’s new products will be labeled or their GE ingredients will be identified.


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.

More synbio GMOs hitting the grocery store courtesy of Modern Kitchen

After years of development, products of synthetic biology (synbio) are now entering the marketplace. We first heard about Perfect Day’s synbio dairy proteins (made using genetically engineered microbes) when they were introduced in Brave Robot ice cream. However, ice cream was just the beginning. A range of new products created using synbio are poised to enter the marketplace at an increasing pace.

The Urgent Company has released a second new product made with Perfect Day animal-free dairy proteins: a cream cheese spread. The spread is being marketed under the brand name Modern Kitchen.  Similar to the Urgent Company’s Brave Robot ice cream, which was launched in 2020, Modern Kitchen cream cheese spread uses Perfect Day’s synbio proteins, this time labeled on the ingredient panel as “non-animal whey proteins.”

The spread was launched on the Modern Kitchen website and made available in three flavors: spring onion and chive, strawberry, and harissa pepper. In addition to the synbio-produced whey protein, the ingredient list also includes potato starch, potato protein, and cornstarch. All three are derivatives of crops included on the Non-GMO Project’s high-risk list for their potential to be sourced from GMOs. In addition, the strawberry flavor includes sugar, possibly sourced from GM sugar beet, another high-risk crop.

Several of these ingredients are listed as being “non-GMO,” but we often see self-made non-GMO claims on products that the Non-GMO Project considers to be GMOs. It is also interesting to note that the product label states that the spread is “Made from Plants and Flora.” The Urgent Company chose the word “flora” to represent the genetically engineered microbes because it believes that the term is more "consumer friendly."

In addition to the website launch, the spread also made its East Coast debut at the first annual Brooklyn Bagelfest in October, an event sponsored by both Perfect Day and Modern Kitchen. Modern Kitchen plans to follow up its website launch with a limited retail store debut in Southern California in the coming months.

Perfect Day recently raised $350 million in Series D funding, bringing its total funding to $750 million.

 

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.

Synbio Egg White Proteins Make Their Debut

“No chicken needed.” With the help of genetic engineering, one company is making animal-free egg proteins a reality. In this case, the proteins are made through synthetic biology using genetically engineered yeast. Products of synthetic biology are considered GMOs by the Non-GMO Project Standard and, if you’ve been tracking this newsletter you’ll know, represent a new tidal wave of GMOs entering the marketplace.

“World’s first animal-free egg protein”

In early October, Clara Foods, a biotechnology company founded to create synbio egg proteins using genetically modified yeast, announced that the company is rebranding as the EVERY Company and is launching its first animal-free egg protein, EVERY ClearEgg™. The product is being marketed as a clear alternative to other proteins, such as whey, for inclusion in a variety of beverages. 

Back in April, with an eye toward commercialization, Clara Foods announced that it was partnering with ZX Ventures, the innovation sector of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the large-scale brewer. The partnership marked the first project undertaken by the new BioBrew division of ZX Ventures, which was founded in 2019 to facilitate next-generation fermentation.

Worldwide distribution

The following month, Clara Foods announced that it had launched its first product, an animal-free pepsin, which is now branded as EVERY Pepsin. Both products are being distributed worldwide through Ingredion. The company is also working on another synbio egg product, EVERY Egg White, which is intended for use in a wider variety of food products. 

Clara Foods was founded in 2014 with the assistance of New Harvest, a research institute dedicated to cellular agriculture, and then nurtured with funding from SOSV under the IndieBio accelerator program.


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.

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 (https://www.greenqueen.com.hk/melt-marble-funding/). 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.

Beauty is big biz. So it’s no surprise that GMOs are quickly making their way into personal care products. Using synthetic biology, companies can produce ingredients such as collagen and yes, even spider silk proteins! Here are two companies advancing the use of GMO-made spider silk proteins in body care products. Synthetic biology—which most often refers to the use of genetically engineered microbes—is defined as a GMO technique by our Standard.

Bolt Threads Partners with Ginkgo Bioworks to Advance Spider Silk Proteins for Skin Care Products

In August, Bolt Threads and Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership to advance the development and commercialization of Bolt’s b-silk™ synbio spider silk proteins. The goal of the partnership is to improve production efficiency as Bolt seeks to expand applications for its synbio spider silk proteins in personal care products. 

From hair care to skin care

B-silk™ is currently being used in the Vegamour hair care product line. In 2019, Bolt launched a subsidiary, Eighteen B, to market b-silk™ in a skin care line. Eighteen B closed the following year, and Bolt transitioned to make its b-silk™ skin care products available through its Beebe Lab. The official ingredient name for the synbio spider silk protein is sr-Wasp Spider Polypeptide-1 Oligopeptide-178, in which the “sr” stands for synthetic recombinant.

Genetically modified yeast (not spiders)

Bolt Threads was founded in 2009 with the goal of making synbio spider silk proteins from genetically modified yeast for use in textiles. In March 2017, the company launched its proprietary spider silk Microsilk™ tie, followed by a wool and Microsilk™ blend cap, which was made in conjunction with Best Made Co. In 2019, Bolt teamed up with Stella McCartney and Adidas to create the biofabric tennis dress, which featured fabric that was a blend of Microsilk™ and cellulose fiber.

Ginkgo Bioworks is dedicated to engineering cells and works in partnership with numerous companies to create biotechnology products in the food, fragrance, agriculture, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.

 

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.

If you’re one who prefers animal-free products, vegan collagen might be up your alley. But if you wish to avoid GMOs, you’ll want to stop and consider how exactly that collagen was made. If it involved synbio, it would fall squarely under the Non-GMO Project Standard’s definition of a GMO product. That’s because synbio is the genetic engineering of microorganisms. Today, we look at how synbio collagen is expanding from skin care products into food and drink.

Geltor Releases Its Newest Synbio Collagen, PrimaColl™
Geltor, a protein design company, has announced the release of its first synbio collagen for the food and beverage industries, PrimaColl™. Synbio, or synthetic biology, is the genetic engineering of microorganisms to produce a novel product, such as collagen.

For “next-generation” food and drink

The company is already in talks with a number of potential food and beverage companies who are interested in the product; and as of June 2021, Geltor was planning to submit its self-determined Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) documents to the FDA.

Some of the possible on-pack names for the ingredient include Collagen (Vegan), Next-Generation Collagen, Concentrated Collagen Peptides, Real Vegan Collagen, or Animal-Free Collagen.

Established in skin care

Since the company’s founding in 2015, Geltor has produced several synbio products, primarily for use in the skin care and cosmetics industries. Collume® was the first product to be released for the skin care industry in 2018. In 2019, the company launched its first human collagen, HumaColl21®, for use in the cosmetics industry. More recently, in April 2020, Geltor launched Elastapure®, which is based on human elastin, also for use in the cosmetics industry.

Reaching the U.S. market

In April 2019, it was announced that Geltor’s HumaColl21® was being used in AHC brand’s Ageless Real Eye Cream for Face. AHC is part of Unilever, making the product widely available in the U.S. In May of this year, the new beauty brand Orora Skin Science announced that it was launching the first skin-care line featuring Geltor’s HumaColl21®. Initial products include a serum and a moisturizer.

Going global

In July 2020, Geltor announced that it had raised $91.3 million in Series B funding, which would be used to further the development of synbio proteins and its global expansion as a custom protein service provider.

 

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.

Moolec Science is Genetically Engineering Animal-Plant Hybrids

As our research team uncovers the frontiers of genetic engineering, we often think, “You just can’t make this stuff up!” Today, we have an alert for you about the exploitation of plants to create animal proteins. It’s one more reason to carefully track the inputs used to make your ingredients and products—and to stay informed! All products of new genetic engineering techniques are defined as GMOs by the Project’s Standard.

Molecular farming

Moolec Science (Moolec), a food technology company, has announced that it’s expanding its portfolio to include the development of egg and dairy proteins in plants, specifically in wheat and oats, respectively. 

Based in Warwick, England, Moolec is one of a new breed of companies operating in the relatively unknown arena referred to as “Molecular Farming,” with the goal of developing protein-dense plants and “reducing the world’s reliance on animals.”

Using plants as mini bioreactors

Molecular Farming expands the horizons of what is known in the marketplace as synthetic biology (synbio), the genetic engineering of microorganisms to exploit their natural function in order to produce a desired result, such as proteins or flavorings. Molecular Farming is similar in that it involves the genetic engineering of plants to exploit what they do naturally and thus turn them into mini bioreactors.

In the case of Moolec, this involves inserting genetic material from animals into plants and then using the plants as “surrogates” to produce various animal proteins. This approach has been used for a number of years in the pharmaceutical industry but has only recently been poised to impact the food system.

Insert cow genes, make dairy proteins in oats

Launched in 2020, Moolec is a spinoff of the agricultural biotechnology firm Bioceres SA, which is based in Argentina. The first product of its Molecular Farming technique was patented in 2015 and involved the insertion of bovine genes in safflower to produce chymosin proteins for cheesemaking.

Going forward, Moolec plans to partner with food producers to provide them with animal-plant hybrid protein ingredients. Other proteins in the early development stage involve the insertion of porcine genetic material into soybeans and peas. These proteins could then be used to create hybrid meat analogs, capitalizing on the expansive growth of the use of soy and pea isolates in plant-based products. The company anticipates having these products ready for commercial release in 2025.

 

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.

Brands use Perfect Day® Synbio Proteins to Create GE Ice Cream

As animal-free food alternatives rise in popularity, some brands are turning to synthetic biology—or synbio—to make these products. What is synbio? As it’s used in the market today, synbio is a GMO technique that involves the modification of microorganisms to create ingredients, such as dairy proteins or flavorings. In this edition of New GMO Alerts, we take a quick look at several ice cream brands using synbio ingredients. It’s important to note, all products of new genetic engineering (GE) techniques, including synbio, are defined as GMOs by the Project’s Standard.

Brave Robot Launches GE Ice Cream in 5,000 Stores

The Urgent Company, which was created by and received seed funding from Perfect Day®, has launched its first commercial product, a synbio animal-free dairy ice cream marketed under the Brave Robot brand, in 5,000 stores. The ice cream is available in eight flavors, all of which include Perfect Day® synbio dairy proteins, which have been created using genetically engineered microorganisms. In addition to the synbio dairy component, a number of Brave Robot’s flavors include sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, soy lecithin, soybean oil, canola oil, and citric acid, all of which are commonly derived from genetically modified crops.

Other Perfect Day® Partners

Other brands that are also using Perfect Day® synbio dairy proteins include Smitten® N’Ice CreamNick’sGraeter’s Perfect Indulgence™, and Ice Age!

 

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.

magnifiercrossarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram