Most US Cheese Contains GMO Made By Pfizer

Fact checked by The People's Voice Community
cheese pfizer gmo

Cheese was traditionally made using just four ingredients: milk, salt, starter culture and animal rennet.

But now there are four types of rennet used in the cheese-making industry: animal rennet, vegetable rennet, microbial rennet and a genetically modified version called FPC (fermentation-produced chymosin), which is made by Pfizer.

Bioengineered FPC was granted Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) status, which exempted Pfizer from the pre-approved requirements that apply to other new food additives.

More than 90% of North American cheese is made with the FPC rennet, but consumers do not know what they are eating because the ingredient labels don’t distinguish between bioengineered rennet and the original animal-based type.

In an article for The Defender, Dr Joseph Mercola explains why he believe you should only be eating cheese made with ANIMAL RENNET, and how over 90% of the cheese sold in the U.S. does not use this and instead uses a genetically modified organism (GMO) version made by Pfizer

“FPC was created by the one and only Pfizer (biotech company) and is made possible by using CRISPR gene editing technology where the genomes of living organisms are modified. The “safety” of FPC was evaluated by a 90-day trial in rats.

How FPC is made

Here’s how it is made: The rennet-producing gene is taken out of the animal cell’s DNA string and then inserted into the bacteria, yeast or mold host cell’s DNA string in a process known as gene splicing (a type of recombinant DNA technology).

Once inserted, the newly placed gene initiates the production of the chymosin enzyme within the host. The host culture is then cultivated and fermented.

These recombinant DNA technologies are relatively new and became popular in the 1980s when the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote ruled that new life forms can be patented.

So then in 1990, in another precedent-setting decision by a U.S. government office, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of FPC in food. It was the first time a bioengineered product was permitted in food in the U.S. It gets better.

This bioengineered FPC was granted GRAS status. This means that Pfizer was exempt from the pre-approval requirements that apply to other (non-GRAS) new food additives.

Since Pfizer demonstrated what is often referred to as “substantial equivalence,” the FDA concluded that bioengineered chymosin was substantially equivalent to calf rennet and needed neither special labeling nor an indication of its source or method of production.

In case you didn’t know, this “GRAS” label is a little hand-wavy and just a big loophole. In general, federal law requires the FDA to ensure that food additives are safe and mandates a rigorous pre-market safety review process. But the loophole = GRAS.

The GRAS loophole

Forty-three percent of food additives are designated “GRAS” and don’t get FDA oversight. Essentially, we must trust that food companies will conduct unbiased safety determinations before adding these new GRAS substances to our food.

“According to the FDC [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic] Act, food additives that are non-GRAS need approval prior to marketing. In contrast, GRAS substances do not require approval or notification to the USFDA prior to marketing.”

Meaning the public and other regulatory agencies lack the data needed to assess the safety of some chemicals in our foods.

In 2014, former Deputy FDA Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor commented on the FDA’s failure to regulate food chemicals, saying:

“We simply do not have the information to vouch for the safety of many of these chemicals.”

GRAS may have started with good intentions, but it has turned out to be a giant loophole for food companies to get a free pass to use chemical additives in our food with little to no oversight.

And of course, there is no other developed country in the world that has a system as archaic as GRAS for approving food additives. Okay tangent aside, back to FPC.

FPC cheese is exempt from GMO labeling

Even though the organisms that produce this FPC are genetically modified, dairy products using this technology are exempt from having to label their products as “GMO.”

In fact, FPC is just listed as “microbial rennet” or “vegetable rennet” on labels. (The source of the rennet is not required to be listed.) So it is a little deceiving.

The “Non-GMO” national project does not agree with this FPC technology and believes this is a high-risk ingredient. Moreover, FPC is not permitted in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic cheeses.

Here is a comment from the American Cheese Society:

“FPC rennet is a genetically modified organism (GMO). According to the culture companies, 90% of North American cheese is made with FPC rennet. But ingredient labels do not distinguish between this type of microbial rennet and the original non-GMO type.

“And the fact that use of FPC-type microbial rennet is not labeled a GMO leaves those who oppose GMOs in the dark when it comes to choosing cheese.”

And once again, FPC is used in 90% of the cheese made in the U.S.!

These alternative rennet methods are up to two times cheaper than using animal rennet since they speed up the aging process to make cheese ready for market faster, which means more profits.

They also allow cheese companies to market to vegetarians (since animal rennet, derived from the stomach of a ruminant animal, would not be allowed). But is FPC safe?

Safety concerns of GM enzymes

Well, again, this technology is new. So there are no long-term studies evaluating the safety of eating a small amount of this genetically modified food additive every single day.

But there are two main concerns: 1) toxicity and 2) digestive issues since these rennet alternatives can serve as an allergen.

Toxicity concerns

Toxicity means that the enzyme solution contains biotoxins from the genetically modified host (mold or fungus) that is being cultured and fermented in the lab.

The producers of these enzymes claim the final FPC enzyme solution is highly purified, but some people react as though they still contain some of the allergens from the host microorganisms themselves.

In fact, traces of the genetically engineered bacteria have been found in enzymes. A few quotes from the literature regarding these toxicity concerns. I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to consume biotoxins from genetically modified organisms!

Genetically modified food enzymes are currently produced from GMOs. Safety concerns have been raised regarding potential contamination of food with bacterial toxins or mycotoxins, allergens, or uncharacterized extraneous substances as impurities.

“Because these enzymes are purified from microbial sources, toxic substances might be present in enzyme preparations/isolates. The toxic substances are basically bacterial toxins and mycotoxins, which might cause problems/risks related to the health of consumers.

“Safety legislation is also very much attentive regarding the allergenic properties of manufactured enzymes, as it is well known that enzymes are potent inhalative sensitizers.

“Apart from that, numerous uncharacterized extraneous substances/ impurities of microbial/biological origin may also be present in the enzyme preparation, which is also a matter of prime concern while evaluating the safety of commercial enzyme products.

“While food enzyme preparations are considered unlikely to cause any acute toxicity, genotoxicity, or repeat-dose oral toxicity, it is the fermentation product(s) of microorganisms from the manufacturing process that is/are of interest due to the potential presence of secondary metabolites that may induce toxicity when ingested (eg. aflatoxins, fumonisins and/or ochratoxins).”

So, some are concerned about continuous ingestion of these biotoxins over time, and the negative health consequences those would have over the course of years.

And unfortunately, there isn’t much regulation here. “Currently, the companies themselves are responsible for the quality control of their products.”

Niamh Harris
About Niamh Harris 15113 Articles
I am an alternative health practitioner interested in helping others reach their maximum potential.