Soylent, a food startup with a cult following, is using a controversial ingredient -- and they aren't about to stop

Soylent, Silicon Valley’s favourite meal-replacement drink, is using the boogeyman of ingredients in its product.

And no, it’s not people.

The startup, which has attracted a cult following with its convenient powders and ready-to-drink bottles designed to replace eating actual meals, is made with GMOs.

As the company’s founders write in a report released this week, “GMOs currently on the market provide ample cases of tangible benefit with relatively negligible risk.”

And guess what? Scientists agree.

Everyone from the National Academy of Sciences, to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the European Commission have publicly proclaimed GMO foods to be safe to eat. A large 2013 study on GMOs found no “significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops.”

Other experts cite the fact that practically all the food we eat today has been genetically modified in some way; everything from our corn to our watermelons have been selectively bred for thousands of years to give us the traits we find desirable, like large amounts of sweet, edible flesh or small seeds.

Soylent bottlesMelia Robinson/Tech InsiderBottles of ready-to-drink Soylent in a fridge stacked with other GM foods.

And what about the other products that we use every day that wouldn’t exist without GM ingredients? All insulin, the medication people with diabetes depend on to regulate their blood sugar, is made with genetically modified ingredients. The cotton used to make the T-shirt you’re wearing right now was most likely genetically modified. As Harvard geneticist George Church pointed out to Business Insider recently, the hypocrisy of our selective embrace of certain genetically modified products is astounding.

“I hope people wake up one day and realise, ‘Hey almost everything is GM — it’s in the air, on our bodies, in our medicine — maybe we can get over the GM foods controversy,” Church said.

The makers of Soylent seem to have hope.

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