Recent testing reveals 92 potentially carcinogenic molecules – and a fungicide – in Bill Gates’ “synthetic” milk which is being sold in grocery stores across America, according to the Health Research Institute (HRI).
The fake milk, sold by Bored Cow, uses a fake whey protein called “ProFerm” made by Gates-funded biotech company and partner Perfect Day. Perfect Day uses genetically modified “microflora” to produce the synthetic milk protein.
HRI, a nonprofit independent lab based in Fairfield, Iowa, examined multiple samples of Bored Cow’s “original” flavor milk using mass spectrometry to test the claim that the synthetic protein it contained was the same as real milk protein.
Synthetic milk has never before been consumed by humans and has not undergone safety testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to HRI’s Chief Scientist and CEO John Fagan, Ph.D.
The testing results have yet to be published, but Fagan shared a few highlights with The Defender, including that the synthetic milk lacked many important micronutrients found in natural milk such as an omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin E and some B vitamins.
It also contained a host of compounds that could be harmful to human health, Fagan said.
Fagan — a molecular biologist and former cancer researcher at the National Institutes of Health — has been a worldwide pioneer in testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Commenting on his lab’s findings, he told The Defender, “The 92 unknown molecules we found have never been studied by scientists. So we don’t know whether they’re safe or dangerous, whether they are nutrients or toxics.”
Only eight compounds were identifiable. The rest were “uncharacterized” by scientific literature. Fagain explained:
“In any natural material, you’re going to probably find a majority of compounds that science has not studied.
“Human beings have this arrogant idea that they know everything, but in fact, we know just a little fragment of what there is to know about the living world …
“[For example, a sample of] wheat will have many compounds that are unknown to science. But the difference is that you and I — our ancestors going back 4,000 years — have been eating wheat. And so we know from traditional use that whatever’s in wheat, it’s safe for us to eat.
“We can’t say that about the synbio milk. It’s what is called, in Europe and in Canada, a ‘novel food.’”
Such countries require that novel foods be tested for safety before they’re put on the market, he added, but not the U.S.
Fagan said he found it concerning that the Bored Cow samples contained a pesticide — a fungicide called Benthiavalicarb-isopropyl.
“I think the reason this fungicide is present is because they added it to the fermentation process to inhibit the growth of fungi that could contaminate the production system,” he said, “So the things that we see here are not really good for us, let me put it that way.”
HRI compared these results to samples of natural milk from grass-fed cows.
69 important nutrients in natural milk absent in synthetic milk
“There were 69 important nutrients present in natural milk, most of which were completely absent in synbio milk. A few were present in small or trace amounts,” Fagan said.
For example, Bored Cow’s milk only had a trace of riboflavin, known as vitamin B2, while natural milk has very high levels, he said. Pantothenic acid, known as vitamin B5, was “absolutely absent in the synbio milk.”
Similarly, vitamin E was “essentially absent yet present in substantial levels in natural milk,” he said.
Additionally, forms of carnitine that are “really important for energy metabolism” were either missing or only present in trace amounts in the synbio product, he said.
The synthetic milk had “only a tiny trace of the important omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic.
Alpha-linolenic acid is “the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in plants.” Natural milk from grass-fed cows typically has “significant levels” of it, Fagan explained.
Fagan added that “a number of other lipids or fats — diglycerides and mono and triglycerides — were undetectable in the synbio milk.”
These results contradict Perfect Day’s claim that it’s product — used by Bored Cow — is “identical to what cows make.”
Industry calls it ‘precision fermentation’ rather than ‘genetic engineering’
Bored Cow is one of at least ten companies selling “synthetic” or “synbio” dairy products.
“Synbio” — short for “synthetic biology” — is a method that uses genetic engineering to modify microorganisms like yeast, algae or bacteria to produce novel products, according to the Non-GMO Project.
Indeed, Perfect Day avoids describing its production process as involving “GMOs” and, instead, explains on its website “how we teach microflora to create sustainable protein.”
Meanwhile, critics — including groups like the nonprofit GMO/Toxin Free USA that consider the product to be GMO — say synbio milk needs to undergo safety testing before the FDA allows it to be sold.
GMO/Toxin Free USA released a list of 12 brands they found to include synbio milk in their products, such as alternative dairy ice cream, milk, whey protein and cream cheese.
In addition to Bored Cow, the brands were Brave Robot, Nick’s, Coolhaus, Strive Nutrition, Nestle Cowabunga, Whey FWRD, JuiceLand, Apollo, Modern Kitchen, Nurishh and Mars CO2COA.
The Non-GMO Project named more companies, including The Urgent Company, California Performance Co. and Betterland Foods. Even General Mills now sells products made with synbio milk, according to Bored Cow.
Perfect Day also lists partnerships with Nestlé, Mars, Myprotein, Renewal Mill and Bel Group.
GMO/Toxin Free USA said, “This is yet another corporate attempt to use Americans as their lab rats. NO THANK YOU.”
Ken Roseboro, founder and editor of The Organic & Non-GMO Report, agreed, telling The Defender, “Companies are getting billions in venture capital money as they sell synbio dairy products to the public.”
Roseboro, who edits the “world’s only directory of organic, non-GMO and regenerative suppliers” called “The Organic & Non-GMO Sourcebook,” said the products are “not non-GMO.”
“The Non-GMO Project prohibits synbio products like this from being verified as non-GMO,” he added.
Other startups developing dairy products using GMO fermentation include New Culture (U.S.), Change Foods (U.S. and Australia), Legendary Foods (Germany), Better Dairy (U.K.), Remilk (Israel), Turtle Tree (U.S. and Singapore), Cultivated Biosciences (Switzerland), Changing Bio (China), Phyx44 (India), Reboot Food (U.K.) and Fonterra (New Zealand).
The European Union recently committed 50 million euros to the “precision fermentation” sector.
Does synbio dairy contain GMOs?
Meanwhile, Perfect Day claims ProFerm does not contain GMOs.
Fagan noted that the companies may claim that the GMO DNA is removed during the processing of the fermented proteins, but it is highly unlikely that they could remove all of the GMO DNA. “We are currently doing research to assess this,” he said.
Current federal law does not require products that contain ProFerm to be labeled as bioengineered or as containing GMOs. The Non-GMO Project states that synbio products go “unlabeled and unregulated in the marketplace.”
Indeed, the FDA on its webpage about GMO regulation says only “certain types of GMOs have a disclosure that lets you know if the food, or ingredients you are eating, is a bioengineered food.”
Since no GMO labeling is required for products with synbio milk protein, people may not know they are buying a GMO-based product, said GMO/Toxin Free USA.
For example, the ingredients listed for Bored Cow’s “original” flavor are:
“Water, animal-free whey protein (from fermentation), sunflower oil, sugar, less than 1% of: vitamin A, vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), vitamin D2, riboflavin, citrus fiber, salt, dipotassium phosphate, acacia, gellan gum, mixed tocopherols (antioxidant), calcium potassium phosphate citrate, natural flavor.”
The label does not specify that the whey protein was produced through genetic engineering of yeast.
‘There is nothing precise about the process’
Roseboro called HRI’s findings “very concerning” and said synbio milk products should undergo “extensive safety testing.”
“These synthetic biology companies are claiming to use ‘precision fermentation’ but finding 92 unknown compounds shows there is nothing precise about the process to make Perfect Day’s protein,” he said, adding:
“It’s just ridiculous for them to call the process ‘precise.’ That’s the product of some PR [public relations] firm.
“They say they use ‘microflora,’ which is a nice term for GMO yeast.
“They are obviously trying to avoid using the term ‘GMO’ because of negative connotations.”
When asked by The Defender if its product was non-GMO, a Perfect Day spokesperson did not directly answer and instead said:
“Our process, precision fermentation, has been safely used in the food industry for decades to create common ingredients like the microbial rennet in most cheeses, citric acid, amino acids, Vitamin B12, and more.”
Given that Perfect Day’s fermentation process involves using GMOs, it is unclear how the FDA concluded the product could be “generally regarded as safe,” Roseboro said.
Perfect Day’s spokesperson said the FDA’s evaluation for ProFerm’s GRAS notification was “very thorough and detailed on safety, nutrition, and quality.”
But such an evaluation doesn’t count for much, according to the Non-GMO Project, because the U.S. regulatory system around GMOs is “largely performative.”
The Non-GMO Project told The Defender:
“The FDA does not carry out, commission or require mandatory safety testing of GMOs that are entering the human food supply. Certain GMOs are regulated by other government agencies, such as the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] or APHIS [the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service], based on potential environmental impacts.”
The FDA only looks at voluntary pre-market research that is designed and conducted by the companies making GMO products.
It’s a “clear conflict of interest” that these companies “who stand to profit from GMO commercialization” are the ones doing the research, the Non-GMO Project said.
The bottom line, according to the Non-GMO Project, is that synbio milk “contains unidentified compounds and it has not undergone independent, long-term safety testing.”
“It is not identical to natural cow’s milk, which has been part of our diet for millennia,” the group added.
Roseboro agreed. His advice to parents concerned about their kids’ health was, “Buyer beware.”
“These products have been put on the market without any safety testing,” he said, “The FDA has given them a pass and they should be safety tested.”
He added, “The same goes for other synbio-produced products like Brave Robot Ice Cream, Impossible Burger, Motif Foodworks, Remilk and others that claim to use ‘precision fermentation’ and ‘microflora.’”
Is synbio dairy protein vegan?
But whether ProFerm is vegan is a matter of opinion. The Non-GMO Project said the synbio dairy proteins like ProFerm “would not meet a strict vegan’s definition of a vegan-friendly protein alternative,” adding:
“Strictly speaking, vegan products don’t involve animals or animal products in any part of the development process.
“The creation of synbio dairy proteins is possible because blood drawn from a cow was used to map its genome in 2009.
“That genetic information was then stored in a computer database and used to program the genetically engineered microorganisms.”
Product not as ‘green’ as company claims
Perfect Day claims its process generates “up to 97% less carbon emissions …[and] uses up to 99% less blue water [sourced from freshwater lakes, rivers and aquifers] than traditional milk.”
However, Fagan disagreed. He said:
“The main input for fermentation is sugar — and they’re using high fructose corn syrup, which is a GMO product, and a product that is part of an extractive agriculture system that definitely generates much more carbon than it sequesters.”
The calculations that Perfect Day publicizes “completely ignore the carbon footprint of the agricultural processes that makes the inputs for fermentation,” he said.
“So in fact, although they say they’re carbon-neutral or carbon-negative, when you look at the whole picture, they are generating serious amounts of greenhouse gases and wasting water,” Fagan added.
Bored Cow did not immediately respond to The Defender’s request to comment on HRI’s test results.