In a new report
, Navdanya International outlines how thanks to recent advances in synthetic biology and artificial intelligence, a wide array of synthetic foods that have begun to flood the market are not the sustainable, climate-friendly solutions they claim to be. These artificial foods include plant-based meat and dairy alternatives use genetic engineering to reconfigure an organism’s internal DNA to create something not found in nature, and cell-cultured products made from real animal cells– even though these are yet to hit the market.
These products represent a new line of synthetically produced, ultra-processed foods that seek to imitate and replace animal products, food additives, socially-conflictive and rare ingredients. Disguised as sustainable alternatives, they are marketed in a way that appeals to a new generation of environmentally-aware consumers that have grown displeased by the grim realities of the livestock industry.
But are synthetic foods truly an ecological solution or simply the latest greenwashing ploy devised by the same multinationals?
A deeper look reveals that even though these products market themselves as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘healthy’, and ‘sustainable’, they are no such thing, as they do little to truly address the root problems of industrial agriculture and its environmental, and health consequences. Consequences that can be largely blamed on the same circle of businessmen who today finance the development of this blooming biotech industry.
These products instead represent the next generation of ultra-processed junk foods, and a new means to consolidate even more power and profit into the hands of a few food giants without facing the implications of ecological devastation, worsening human health, and exacerbated climate change.
As such, the ‘plant-based’ label means very little as it is based on industrial models, monocultures, GMOs, pesticides, and other chemically intensive agricultural practices that are destroying the planet.
As previously shown by Navdanya throughout the last years, and once again demonstrated in this article/report, Hope does not lie in pursuing technological innovations such as lab-grown synthetic foods that see nature as a dead and unimprovable technology, but in participating and rejuvenating the earth's natural processes. When we farm with real knowledge of how to care for the Earth, eat real food which nourishes the biodiversity of the Earth, our guts and our cultures, we are then participating in real and living processes that regenerate the well-being of all.