Missouri HB 1169 would force meat, food producers to label products that utilize mRNA vaccines in animals
Representative Holly Jones won a seat in the Missouri State House of Representatives in November 2022. She raised less than $25,000 for her campaign and still won (note that’s about the average amount spent for the seat’s winner since the turn of the millennium). Mrs. Jones, a Republican, represents District 88, a seat which was held by a Democrat since at least 2012. Her 2022 victory was made possible due to redistricting.
Mrs. Jones is the Vice President of Wellness Development at the Nepute Wellness Group in St. Louis. Dr. Eric Nepute has been targeted by federal agencies for selling vitamin D and zinc during the so-called pandemic, while correctly stating that said supplements boost your immune system. Mrs. Jones is also the business manager for Ohio-based attorney Thomas Renz, who has been on the front lines fighting COVID tyranny from the beginning.
Mr. Renz helped draft Missouri House Bill No. 1169 (“HB 1169”), which was introduced by Representative Jones on February 15, 2023. Known colloquially as the “informed consent bill,” the crux of HB 1169 reads as follows:
Any product that has been created to act as, or exposed to processes that could result in the product potentially acting as, a gene therapy or that could otherwise possibly impact, alter, or introduce genetic material or a genetic change into the user of the product, individuals exposed to the product, or individuals exposed to others who have used the product shall be conspicuously labeled with the words “Potential Gene Therapy Product” unless the product is known to be a gene therapy product.
In other words, all foods, medicines, etc. that could even be semi-sort-of construed as gene therapy must be conspicuously labeled as such. The bill would allow consumers to make informed shopping decisions when buying meat, eggs, milk and other products that come from mRNA-vaxxed cows and hogs. HB 1169 comes as U.S. meat producers have signaled that they will normalize the use of mRNA-based “vaccines” for cattle and hogs nationwide as soon as this coming summer.
Elon Musk promotes mRNA tech
Are You Eating Pork Injected With Merck’s mRNA Livestock Vaccine?
Children's Health Defense, Mercola
Since 2018, industrial pork producers have been using customizable mRNA-based "vaccines" on their herds. According to drugmaker Merck, the vaccines target “existing and evolving swine pathogens, including diseases not covered by conventional swine vaccines.”
Dr. Joseph Mercola
Story at a glance:
For the last couple of years, I’ve recommended not eating pork due to its high linoleic acid (LA) content, but there’s an even bigger reason to avoid it now. Since 2018, pork producers have been using customizable mRNA-based “vaccines” on their herds.
The very first RNA-based livestock vaccine, a swine influenza (H3N2) RNA shot licensed in 2012, was developed by Harrisvaccines. The company followed up with an avian influenza mRNA shot in 2015. Harrisvaccines was acquired by Merck Animal Health later that year.
CureVac developed an mRNA-based rabies shot for pigs in 2016.
The swine vaccine platform Sequivity, introduced in 2018, was developed by Merck in partnership with Moderna. Sequivity can produce endlessly customized “vaccines,” none of which undergo safety testing.
Americans have been eating pork treated with gene therapy for nearly five years already, and even more of our meat supply is about to get the same treatment. mRNA-lipid nanoparticle shots for avian influenza are in the works, as are mRNA shots for cows. Lobbyists for the Cattlemen’s Association recently confirmed they intend to use mRNA “vaccines” in cattle, which might affect both dairy and beef.
Missouri House Bill 1169 would require labeling of products that can alter your genes. It would also require companies to share information about the potential transmissibility of gene-altering interventions, and asserts that fully informed consent must be given for all vaccines, gene therapies and medical interventions.
For the last couple of years, I’ve recommended not eating pork due to its high linoleic acid (LA) content, but there’s an even bigger reason to avoid it now.
Since 2018, pork producers have been using customizable mRNA-based “vaccines” on their herds, and this has slipped completely under the radar. I myself just found out about it.
As described on Merck’s animal health website:
“A revolutionary swine vaccine platform, SEQUIVITY harnesses RNA particle technology to create customized prescription vaccines against strains of influenza A virus in swine, porcine circovirus (PCV), rotavirus and beyond. It’s supported by a sophisticated dashboard filled with comprehensive data and insights …
“Sequivity is a custom swine vaccine platform … Sequivity only targets swine pathogen gene sequences of interest. Doesn’t replicate or cause disease, delivering pathogen information to the immune system … There’s no need to transfer or handle live material like autogenous, killed or modified live vaccines …
“Targets existing and evolving swine pathogens, including diseases not covered by conventional swine vaccines. Allows for the creation of multivalent formulations by blending RNA particles to target multiple swine pathogens in one shot.”
First RNA ‘vaccine’ for livestock licensed in 2012
Merck was not alone in developing veterinary mRNA shots, however. They weren’t even first on the scene, although they later acquired the company that started it all.
The very first RNA-based livestock vaccine, a swine influenza (H3N2) RNA shot, was licensed over a decade ago in 2012, and was developed by Harrisvaccines. The company followed up with an avian influenza mRNA shot in 2015. Harrisvaccines was acquired by Merck Animal Health later that year.
CureVac developed an mRNA-based rabies shot for pigs in 2016. (On a side note, they began conducting human rabies shot trials in 2020 in response to the World Health Organization’s goal to achieve “zero human rabies deaths by 2030.”)
In 2016, Bayer also partnered with BioNTech to develop mRNA “vaccines” for both livestock and pets, but it doesn’t appear they ever launched anything.
So, in retrospect, it appears Americans have been eating pork treated with gene therapy for the past five years, and even more of our meat supply is about to get contaminated with the same treatment.
In addition to the avian influenza RNA shot for chickens licensed in 2015, newer mRNA-lipid nanoparticle shots for avian influenza are also in the works.
Iowa State University is also working on an mRNA shot for cows, and lobbyists for the Cattlemen’s Association recently confirmed they intend to use mRNA “vaccines” in cattle, which might affect both dairy and beef.
Merck and Moderna: Partners in mRNA jab race since 2015
The same year Merck purchased Harrisvaccines (2015), it also entered into a partnership with Moderna to develop a number of undisclosed mRNA “vaccines.” It was slated to be a three-year collaboration, with a one-year optional extension, in which Merck would perform research and development and commercialization of five potential products using Moderna’s mRNA technology.
As reported by Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News at the time:
“Moderna has agreed to design and synthesize the mRNA product candidates directed against selected targets through its mRNA Therapeutics™ platform.
“The platform builds on the discovery that modified mRNA can direct the body’s cellular machinery to produce nearly any protein of interest — ranging from native proteins to antibodies and other entirely novel protein constructs with therapeutic activity inside and outside of cells.”
Endless customization, zero safety testing
Sequivity, introduced in 2018, was one of the products that came out of that partnership. As explained by Merck (both on its website and in the video below), Sequivity is not so much a single vaccine as it is a platform that can be endlessly customized — all without additional safety analyses over and beyond the initial ridiculously inadequate testing.
As noted by Zoetis, the largest producer of veterinary drugs and vaccines:
“Sequivity has safety and efficacy studies based on the platform with a historical initial isolate, not likely the isolate that customers would be requesting in their product.”
Sequivity is customized as follows:
Pathogen is collected and sent to a diagnostic lab.
The gene of interest is sequenced and sent electronically to Sequivity analysts.
A synthetic version of the gene of interest is synthesized and inserted into the RNA production platform.
The RNA particles released from incubated production cells are harvested and formulated into a customized “vaccine.”
Using this platform, a customized “vaccine” can be created in as little as eight weeks. Now, what could go wrong by not testing every new shot for safety?
In my view, there is any number of safety hazards, as every pathogen has distinct effects, and tricking the animal’s body to produce that pathogen (or a pathogenic portion of that pathogen, as done with SARS-CoV-2) can have wildly unexpected side effects.
We’ve clearly seen this with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in humans. Pfizer’s own documentation lists 158,000 recorded side effects, and many of these diseases and conditions have never before been reported in response to a vaccine.
I reviewed this evidence in “Newly Released Pfizer Documents Reveal COVID Jab Dangers” and “CDC Aware of Hundreds of Safety Signals for COVID Jab.”
Yet despite the obvious risks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has gone ahead and authorized updated COVID shots to be released on an annual basis without additional safety testing, and apparently safety testing of mRNA shots used in animals was foregone nearly five years ago!
The risk of dangerous side effects is one of the reasons why not all conventional vaccines work out. Some simply cause too many problems. Now we’re to believe that the possibility for dangerous side effects doesn’t exist just because we’re forcing the body to produce the antigen internally?
If anything, the possibility for problems is higher than ever, as exposure to the antigen is continuous for a long period of time, possibly for the life of the animal.
Even organic pork producers can use mRNA shots
Unfortunately, due to search engines now only providing a short list of curated and heavily censored content, it’s been impossible to determine how many pork producers in the U.S. use Sequivity.
Without that data, I recommend erring on the safe side and avoiding pork altogether, including organic pork, as organic standards do not have any rules on the use of vaccines, mRNA-based or otherwise.
Seeing how the Sequivity platform has been around for nearly five years already, it seems reasonable to assume nearly all large-scale swine producers have made this transition.
What do the cells in mRNA-treated meat contain?
The question now is, how do mRNA shots affect the meat?
For now, this is speculative, as we do not know whether veterinary mRNA shots are substituting uridine with pseudouridine, as was done in the COVID-19 shots. But if they do, then one of the obvious concerns would be that the mRNA might end up in the final meat product that you eat because this substitution makes it extremely difficult to destroy.
As explained by Dr. Peter McCullough:
“Natural RNA is made of two purines adenine and guanine and two pyrimidines cytosine and uracil.
“The replacement of uracil with its ribose ring (uridine) with N-1-methyl-pseudouridine, a synthetic product makes the genetic code for the Wuhan Spike protein better stabilized on lipid nanoparticles, long-lasting, and very efficient in terms of evading cellular destruction and able to undergo repeat reading by ribosomes for continued protein synthesis.
“Morais et al indicate that both Pfizer and Moderna chose development strategies replacing all uridine units with pseudouridine, making the entire strand completely ‘unnatural’ to the human body. Thus vaccine consultants, companies, and patients unfortunately gambled on how long mRNA would be active within the human body.
“Fertig et al found lipid nanoparticles with mRNA were measurable in plasma for — 15 days. Recently, Castruita et al demonstrated mRNA in blood out to 28 days. Röltgen et al have found mRNA in lymph nodes 60 days after injection.
“None of these studies demonstrated complete clearance of mRNA from a group of patients.
“This is worrisome since injections are recommended in some populations just a few months apart implying there will be stacking of long-lasting mRNA in the body without adequate opportunity for clearance and elimination.
“We will look back for many years and ask: how could so many people readily accept injections of heavily modified synthetic genetic code giving the body instructions to manufacture a disease promoting and lethal protein engineered in a biosecurity lab in Wuhan, China?
“Repeated administrations of mRNA studded with apparently indestructible pseudouridine may have changed the course of lives forever.”
If mRNA shots can cause significant disease in humans, how has it affected our pork supply for the last five years? And how will it affect beef and chicken in the future? Can consuming genetically manipulated meat affect your health? These are questions that currently do not have answers and must be thoroughly and comprehensively investigated.
Big Ag didn’t tell us what they were doing
One of the most frustrating aspects of this is that the industry didn’t tell us they were using novel gene therapy to spin up customized “vaccines” in weeks without any safety testing. The only reason many of us became aware of this issue in recent weeks was because attorney Tom Renz started warning about it.
In an April 2 Substack article, Renz wrote:
“I have been talking about gene therapy vaccines being introduced into the food supply without providing people informed consent on my Twitter account … as well as pushing Missouri HB1169 which is our best bet of stopping this happening.
“This is a nightmare scenario whereby people’s genetics are potentially altered with ‘factory foods’ without them even knowing. Let me begin by putting to rest any questions as to whether this can happen. The idea of vaccines in food has been around for a long time …
“Here is an article published in the NIH (you know — by our government) talking about foods ‘under application’ to be genetically modified to become edible vaccines — FROM 2013 … The fact that food can be altered to act as a vaccine is not disputable.
“Which foods and in what ways is more of a question. It is claimed that beef, pork, etc. cannot transfer vaccination from the meat to the consumer of the meat. At initial glance that would make sense (cow DNA and people DNA is quite different and an mRNA designed for cows would probably not be able to transfer directly to people), but that is NOT the whole story.
“You have to remember that the additives in the mRNA vaccines are by no means ‘proven safe’ and we don’t even actually know what all is in these shots … Ultimately the mRNA jabs still have not undergone long-term testing because long-term testing can take 10-20 years and they have not existed that long so any claims about the safety or efficacy of the stuff that’s in them are garbage at best.
“What we do know about the mRNA vaccines is that they do not stop the spread of disease … and really do not help in any way with anything. We also do know that these jabs were demonstrated, in vitro, to alter the genetic makeup of some cells and I would say it is incredibly likely that they do the outside the Petri dish.
“Given that we are now talking about a new level of genetic engineering with unknown effects and no long-term studies, do the potential genetic changes the mRNA injections facilitate pose a long-term risk to humans that ingest the altered food? Before you say no, wouldn’t you prefer it be tested rather than being the subject of the experiment?”
Support Missouri House Bill 1169
As noted by Renz, Missouri House Bill 1169 would require the labeling of products that can alter your genes. It also asserts that fully informed consent must be given for all vaccines, gene therapies and medical interventions, and would require companies to share information about the potential transmissibility of gene-altering interventions.
The pushback by industry against this bill has been enormous, which should tell you something. It doesn’t ban anything; it only requires transparency. That, apparently, is a serious threat to industry, and the most obvious reason for that is because they’d have to admit that all sorts of foods can have gene-altering effects.
Not only might this destroy Big Ag, but it would also decimate any surreptitious attempts by Big Pharma to use the food supply as a tool to distribute vaccines unbeknownst to consumers.
As noted by Renz, “Big pharma DOES NOT WANT people to know they are going to use food to alter their genetics.”
Farmers are also being set up as the fall guys, and they need to be made aware of this.
“The lobbyists opposing this bill … are pushing to shut this bill down because factory mega-farmers like Bill Gates, the CCP, and others want to put vaccines in your food. These guys are supporting the big money but this will come at the expense of the family farmers.
“The problem is that the major factory farmers like Gates have legal teams that can set up defense shields against the torts that may come if the food supply starts poisoning people …
“Meanwhile, the small farmers will be at risk of being sued if it turns out that the food they are selling is unsafe despite the fact that most of them will not necessarily know what is happening.
“If the corn growers, soybean, cattle, and pork associations actually cared about the farmers they would be demanding the seed companies and vaccine manufacturers indemnify the small farmers for these products rather than opposing a bill that would force them to tell the farmers what they are doing.
“The corruption regarding this bill is amazing. Ultimately the labeling requirement would likely serve to protect farmers from being sued because the makers of seed and vaccines would have to make sure the farmers knew if they were putting potential gene therapies into their products. The opposition from the ag lobby is not to help the farmers, it is to help their own pockets.”
As noted by Renz, if this bill is passed in Missouri, it could help protect the food supply of the entire U.S.
In the meantime, I recommend avoiding all pork products, including organic ones, as they not only have high levels of the omega-6 fat, linoleic acid, because of the grains they are fed, but virtually all have been contaminated with the mRNA vaccines for the past five years.
Originally published by Mercola.
Lab-Grown Chicken Meat Will Soon Hit Store Shelves and Restaurant Menus
In the last five months, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved two American producers of lab-grown meat, a product grown from animal cells for human consumption for the first time.
In 2022, the FDA announced that laboratory-grown chicken developed by Upside Food, is “safe to eat,” clearing the way for the California-based company that creates cell-cultured chickens to begin selling its products.
To manufacture its meat, Upside Foods harvests cells from live animals, chicken tissue, and uses the cells to grow meat in stainless-steel tanks known as bioreactors.
The agency issued a statement announcing it evaluated Upside Food’s production and cultured cell material and has “no further questions” about the safety of its cultivated chicken filet.
“The world is experiencing a food revolution,” stated FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. “Advancements in cell culture technology are enabling food developers to use animal cells obtained from livestock poultry, and seafood in the production of food with these products expected to be ready for the US market in the near future.”
“The FDA’s goal is to support innovation in food technologies while always maintaining as our first priority the safety of the foods available to US consumers,” he added.
Upside Foods founder and CEO Uma Valeti heralded the FDA’s approval.
“GOOD Meat’s chicken is the second cultivated meat product to receive a “no-questions” letter from the FDA after California-brd UPSIDE Foods got the regulator’s green light for its cultivated chicken breast last November. The letter means the FDA accepts the company’s conclusion that its product is safe for humans to eat,” Reuters reported.
“We have no questions at this time regarding GOOD Meat’s conclusion that foods comprised of or containing cultured chicken cell material [are] as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods,” FDA said in a March 20 letter to the company.
Now, lab-grown chicken meat is getting closer to restaurant menus and store shelves.
Regulators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are now deciding how to label cultivated meat for public sale and inspect facilities that produce it. The guidelines are expected sometime this year — a final hurdle before the products can hit store shelves.
Americans were estimated to consume roughly 75 billion pounds of red meat and chicken last year, according to USDA data. That’s nearly 225 pounds per American.
Cultivated, or cultured-cell, meat is grown in steel bioreactors from animal stem cells that are fed a mixture of vitamins, fats, sugars and oxygen. The process results in real meat tissue without having to raise or slaughter an animal.
“It takes two weeks to grow the equal to one chicken, a thousand chickens or 100,000 chickens,” said Valeti, who is a cardiologist by training. What limits production is infrastructure.
The Lab Grown ‘GOOD Meat’ Company Has a Murky Past, and They’re Extremely Sensitive About It…
n March 21, GOOD Meat, the lab-grown, “cultivated” meat division of Eat Just Inc., announced that it had received an important preliminary approval from the FDA to bring one of its alternative meat products to market in the US. The approval, in the form of a “no questions” letter, means that the FDA has accepted the company’s claim that its first product, cultivated chicken, is safe to eat. The evaluation process involved a detailed submission from GOOD Meat about the safety and production process for the product, including assurances about its nutritional content and purity.
The letter comes two years after GOOD Meat received its first approval, from the government of Singapore, and served its chicken product to the public for the very first time, at upmarket Singapore restaurant called 1880. It has since been sold in a variety of locations in the city-state, from street stalls to the prestigious Huber’s Butchery. At present, GOOD Meat remains the only producer of lab-grown meat in the world not only to have the necessary approvals to sell its products to consumers, but also to have done so. Although Upside Foods secured FDA approval before GOOD Meat, it has yet to feed any paying customers.
GOOD Meat is now working with the US Department of Agriculture to secure the final necessary approvals, before serving its cultivated chicken at a restaurant in Washington DC, with the help of chef José Andrés, who also happens to be a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
“Since Singapore approved GOOD Meat for sale, we knew this moment was next. I am so proud to bring this new way of making meat to my country and to do it with a hero of mine, Chef José Andrés,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of GOOD Meat and Eat Just, in response to the FDA approval.
“The future of our planet depends on how we feed ourselves,” added Andrés. “And we have a responsibility to look beyond the horizon for smarter, sustainable ways to eat. GOOD Meat is doing just that, pushing the boundary on innovative new solutions, and I’m excited for everyone to taste the result.”
Despite the fanfare for this supposed “food of the future,” and the fact that consumers in the US are probably going to be eating it very soon, there remain serious questions to be answered. Not only about the product, but also the man who produced it: Josh Tetrick.
Can eating lab-grown meat – which is essentially a form of deliberately grown cancer – actually give you cancer? How can you convince the public that it won’t, when nobody has ever eaten it before? And is a man with a troubled business history – a history he’s done his best to hide – the right person to do it?
THE CRUELTY-FREE FOOD OF THE FUTURE?
Lab-grown meat, meat that is produced in a bioreactor in a high-tech manufacturing facility rather than on a traditional farm, is widely touted as a “food of the future”, along with so-called “plant-based meats” and new alternative protein sources like insects and algae.
The promise of lab-grown meat is almost too good to be true: all of the benefits of meat – the taste, the texture, and the nutritional profile – without any of the downsides. That means no raising and slaughtering of animals and, even more importantly, claims of a significantly reduced carbon footprint versus traditional agriculture. Agriculture is widely portrayed as one of the principal culprits in the deepening “climate crisis,” with predictions of looming catastrophe if we don’t transform animal farming soon. By “transform”, of course, many simply mean “get rid of altogether”.
Huge amounts of money have already been poured into lab-grown meat, on the promise of an imminent transformation of meat production and consumption. The so-called “Big Three” players – Eat Just, Believer Meat and Upside Foods – have raised $1.2 billion between them in venture funding, and counting.
These new companies have the backing of organizations like the World Economic Forum, which has proposed a “Planetary Health Diet” built around plant-based and alternative protein sources, as well as the UN and governments – including now the US government, and the governments of the UK, France, the Netherlands and Singapore.
Activist celebrities have been at the forefront of this revolution in food production, providing vocal support, as well as financing, for the new technology. In 2021, for instance, Leonardo DiCaprio bought an unspecified stake in two lab-grown meat companies, Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms, after an earlier investment in Beyond Meat, one of the leading producers of so-called “plant-based meat”.
In a press release to accompany his investment in lab-grown meat, DiCaprio said, “One of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis is to transform our food system. Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms offer new ways to satisfy the world’s demand for beef, while solving some of the most pressing issues of current industrial beef production.”
With the enormous weight of such individual and institutional backing, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the success of lab-grown meat is all-but-guaranteed. But lab-grown meat faces at least two serious, related, problems that are intrinsic to what it is and the way it is produced. If these problems cannot be resolved, the product may just as easily fail to sell, regardless of how much money has been invested in it.
Manufacturers of lab-grown meat like to say that their product is indistinguishable from real meat. It isn’t a copy, nor replica, nor approximation of real meat: it is real meat. But this isn’t true. In actual fact, lab-grown meat cells differ from typical animal cells in at least one fundamental regard: they will replicate eternally if placed under the right conditions. As a result, they are functionally indistinguishable from cancer. They are cancer. As you might imagine, this brings with it image and safety concerns that are likely to prove very hard to shake.
Cells that replicate eternally are known in the medical business as “immortalized cell lines”. The first immortalized human cell line was produced from cancer cells taken from a woman called Henrietta Lacks in 1951, at Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore. The sample was taken from Lacks without her informed consent, and her treatment is held up today as a test case of failed medical ethics, alongside other injustices like the Tuskegee experiments. Despite the ethical controversy that still surrounds their use, the HeLa line of cells, as it is known, has been responsible for a number of scientific and medical breakthroughs. Immortalized human cells taken from aborted fetal tissue were used to develop a number of the COVID-19 shots. Cells may already be cancerous, or cancerous growth may be induced in them via the application of radiation or substances such as enzymes like telomerase, or by genetic modification.
A PORTRAIT OF HENRIETTA LACKS IN THE SMITHSONIAN.
Producers of lab-grown meat favor immortal cell lines for much the same reasons scientists do. Since normal cells will only go on dividing so long, constant samples would need to be taken from animals to continue production. As well as increasing costs, this would also give the lie to the claim that lab-grown meats are “cruelty free”, since animals would still need to be raised – and ultimately slaughtered at some point – to produce them. What would be the point?
While using immortalized cell lines may partially solve one problem – the need to justify the product as an (ethical) alternative to traditional meat – it creates an entirely new one, since now producers and consumers must reckon with some of the least desirable associations you could possibly devise for a food product. Whatever safety concerns manufacturers of other alternative products have faced – perhaps most notably Impossible’s novel ingredient “heme” – simply pale in comparison.
Some manufacturers of lab-grown meat, believing the C-word image problem to be intractable, are quietly moving away from using immortalized cell lines and trying different technologies instead. The Big Three, however, are still pushing on with the use of immortalized cell lines and, if a recent Bloomberg Businessweek piece is any indication, they are doing their very best not to acknowledge the endlessly replicating elephant in the room.
But this will hardly do. It’s abundantly clear from polls and market-research data that alternative products like plant-based meats are already viewed negatively, with consumers being deeply skeptical about their taste and health benefits. One amusing survey of Australian men revealed that 70 percent would prefer to lose ten years of their lives than give up meat. A study revealed that the only effective way to get people to choose plant-based options over traditional choices is to shame people with social pressure, and especially messaging about the environmental and ethical cost of not changing their habits. Add the word “cancer” to the mix, and it’s likely that many consumers will have to face down the barrel of a gun before they choose to eat lab-grown meat.
Could consuming these products actually give you cancer? The answer is, simply – we don’t know. Humans haven’t ever made tumors a staple of their diet, so we have zero long-term data about the effects consumption could have. Worries about the safety of lab-grown meat are real enough that the Italian government is now in the process of banning it, much to the dismay of activists and advocates at organizations like the Bill Gates-funded Good Food Institute. The country has also made moves to restrict the addition of insect protein to foods like flour, pasta, and pizza.
Where cancer is a risk, most would be likely to plead for abundant caution, but this is precisely what is not being exercised, except perhaps in Italy. Although we don’t have long-term safety data, we have good reason, prima facie, to believe that eating lab-grown meat could give you cancer.
First, we know the human genome has acquired hundreds of genes “horizontally”, i.e. from other organisms, including bacteria (“vertical” transfer is the “normal” route, from parent to offspring). Although we don’t fully understand the mechanisms by which this has happened in our history, we can be sure, at least, that it has. Second, we know that complete genes pass from food, via our gut, into our blood. Third, we know that horizontal gene transfer, from cancerous to non-cancerous cells, is a central part of the progression of cancers. Cancer cells create bubbles, or exosomes, to transfer genetic material into healthy cells and make them cancerous.
There’s no reason, then, to believe that oncogenes – i.e. cancer-causing genes – present in lab-grown meat couldn’t be assimilated into the genome of an eater. Certainly, any scientist who said this could never happen would be mistaken or lying.
EAT JUST INC.: A “CULT OF DELUSION”?
The formidable difficulties of disrupting an industry, let alone an industry as fundamental and as popular as animal-based agriculture, would be hard enough without factoring in a product that could give consumers cancer. Truly, you’d need an extraordinarily capable leader to do it. But is Josh Tetrick that man? To answer that question, let’s take a look at how Josh Tetrick, and his company, got to where they are today.
The story of the CEO of Eat Just Inc. begins in 2011 with perhaps the closest approximation to a startup fairytale you could imagine.
The aim: to revolutionize food by offering ethical alternatives to traditional animal-based products. The initial focus is on replacing eggs in products like mayonnaise and cookie dough. They start out as small as possible, working from Tetrick’s garage in San Francisco. Within two years, which they spend largely on research and development, they manage to secure tens of millions of dollars of venture capital from some of the richest men in the world. This included Bill Gates as well as Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. In 2014, they bring their first product to the market. It’s a plant-based mayonnaise. And they team up with Whole Foods, as well as with Costco and Safeway. By the end of that year, the company raised almost $130 million in funding.
If the first couple of years for the company were a fairytale, what followed would be anything but dreamlike. Just how bad things would get is best illustrated by just three years later, when the company would be forced to rebrand entirely and even change its name. Because before Eat Just Inc. was Eat Just Inc., it was Hampton Creek.
Mere mention of the name Hampton Creek is enough to elicit an extremely defensive response from anybody associated with Just Inc. When I started mentioning Hampton Creek on Twitter, I found myself almost immediately blocked by the accounts of GOOD Meat and JUST Egg, another brand within the Just Inc. group. Tetrick himself, with whom I had been speaking in a private Twitter groupchat, in the hope of arranging a live debate about the future of food, unceremoniously left, without a word. Hampton Creek is a touchy subject, and it’s not hard to see why.
The problems began in October of 2014, when Hampton Creek was sued by Unilever for false advertising over its plant-based mayonnaise. Although the lawsuit was dropped, Hampton Creek was slapped with a warning from the FDA that it would have to tighten the marketing of its product.
Less than a year later, several former employees came forward as part of a Business Insider exposé entitled, “Sex, lies and eggless mayonnaise: something is rotten at food startup Hampton Creek, former employees say.”
At least six former employees of the company alleged that it was using “shoddy science”, or even ignoring science altogether, to sell its products; making deceptive claims on its sample products; and creating “an uncomfortable and unsafe work environment”. It was even alleged that Tetrick’s dog, which roamed the company’s laboratory, was used to test the shelf life of its products.
“Many Silicon Valley startups exaggerate about how advanced their technology is, the properties of their products, and other metrics. But many former Hampton Creek employees say the company pushed them beyond their ethical comfort levels. One former employee called it a ‘food company masquerading as a tech company.’” Another employee called the business a “cult of delusion”.
The story was met with silence by Tetrick and representatives of Hampton Creek.
In 2016, Bloomberg ran a story claiming that Hampton Creek employees were encouraged to buy their own products, in order to inflate sales figures when the company sought further venture funding. Hampton Creek’s bizarre response was to say that, yes, it did encourage its employees to purchase its products, but only as a form of internal quality control. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice launched a formal investigation, and concluded the allegations were not significant.
At this point, Hampton Creek was still able to raise significant interest in the American investor community, achieving a unicorn valuation of $1 billion in August 2016; although the exact amount of funding it had raised was unclear.
The scandals kept coming. In June 2017, Target pulled all of Hampton Creek’s products after allegations of food-safety problems, including salmonella and listeria contamination, at the manufacturing facility. At the same time, a power struggle was also taking place within the company. By July, the entire board had resigned, been fired, or moved to other roles. “Hampton Creek’s expiration date gets closer as board quits en masse”, reported Fortune. The company’s response was that the move was a voluntary one towards a new model of governance based on “advisors” rather than a traditional board.
It was at this particularly troubled time in Hampton Creek’s young life as a company, just six years after it was founded, that the CEO and his “advisors” decided a rebrand would be needed. The company began to transition to focus on the “Just” name, and in 2018 changed the name legally.
The rebrand wasn’t without its own problems, including a lawsuit from Jaden Smith, son of the actor Will Smith, who alleged copyright infringement against his own brand, Just Goods. Just Inc was now failing to raise the money it wanted, at least in the US. The newly minted Just Inc was widely known as a “business with a chequered past”. As a result, the company turned east, to investors in China and the Middle East, to raise the hundreds of millions of dollars it needed for further expansion. This explains why the company was pursuing its first approvals – and its first paying customers – not in the US, but in Singapore.
While the history of Just Inc and Hampton Creek may read like a catalogue of errors, bad judgment calls, and ego-driven style-over-substance marketing, it can also be read as a story of dogged persistence. Persistence that is now paying off.
Tetrick and his company have bounced back from scandal and setback, again and again, and are poised to be the first to serve lab-grown meat to American consumers. Just Inc now has a 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Appleton Minnesota – a far cry from the company’s early days in Tetrick’s garage – as well as a manufacturing facility in Singapore, from which it hopes to break into the massive Chinese market in particular. The company recently signed a contract for 10 bioreactors which could be used to produce 30 million pounds of cultured meat in the US a year.
The real question is not whether lab-grown meat is going to be on the menu – that now seems an inevitability – but how much of it people are going to eat and, more importantly, whether it will do them any good.
While the current fortunes of flagship meat-alternative companies like Impossible and Beyond Meat might suggest that these products, and others like them, are destined for the trash-heap of history, reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated. The truth is billions of dollars have been invested in these new products and they have the full moral and institutional backing of most of the scientific, political, and cultural establishments.
One company or product may die – even, eventually, Impossible or Beyond Meat – but hydra-like another three will pop up to replace it. Take a look at a list of new California startups, or the latest round of investments by a venture capitalist like Paul Graham, and you’ll see that the alternative-food ecosystem is becoming more and more crowded by the day, not less. The world’s largest meat-producing corporations, players like JBS and Tyson, are aggressively pushing into new “ownership envelopes”, restructuring their businesses and acquiring salmon-aquaculture and insect farms and vegan pea-protein companies. They’re rebranding themselves too, not as producers of traditional foodstuffs like meat or dairy, but macronutrients, especially protein. Tyson has already trademarked “the Protein Company”.
A fundamental realignment of food production is taking place, and consumer choice, once the reigning value, will now surrender its throne. Advocates and producers of alternative foods are well aware that consumers, given a free choice, would overwhelmingly rather stick with the foods they know and love. Free choice has to go. This is why shame, as well as economic trends, especially inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, and of course the “climate crisis”, are being leveraged more and more to move consumers away from traditional animal products. The idea of “climate rationing” of meat and other foodstuffs is already gaining ground as a response to rising temperatures and carbon emissions, alongside other schemes to limit personal mobility and consumption, like “15-minute cities”.
The danger, for advocates of traditional animal products, isn’t that people will vote with their dollars and start buying lab-grown meat and insects instead of the products they used to eat, but that they will be put in a position where there’s no alternative. If real meat is off the market for good, we may have no choice but to take Josh Tetrick at his word and eat his cultured meat instead.
On the basis of his past performance alone, I’d say that’s a risky proposition indeed.
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