The Joe Rogan Experience features GMOScience and the Impossible Burger

Rat feeding study showing effects from key burger ingredient highlighted on popular podcast

The American comedian and TV host Joe Rogan has broadcast a piece about the meatless, GMO-containing Impossible Burger on his podcast series The Joe Rogan Experience. The piece centres around an article by GMWatch editor Claire Robinson and molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou, “Rat feeding study suggests the Impossible Burger may not be safe to eat”, which is published on GMOScience.org.

The article describes a rat feeding study commissioned by the burger’s manufacturer, Impossible Foods. The study showed that rats fed the genetically modified yeast-derived protein soy leghemoglobin (SLH) – the burger’s key ingredient that gives it a “bleeding” appearance when cut – developed unexplained changes in weight gain and signs of toxicity.

The rats fed SLH also developed changes in the blood that can indicate the onset of inflammation or kidney disease, and possible signs of anemia. Yet Impossible Foods dismissed these statistically significant effects as “non-adverse” or as having “no toxicological relevance”.

The Joe Rogan piece begins with a chat between Rogan and his co-presenter about the latter’s experiences of food poisoning (not related to the burger). Their discussion segues into what Rogan terms “fake meat burgers” and thus to the Impossible Burger, which he calls “weird sh*t” on the basis that it’s made of heavily processed ingredients.

They bring the GMOScience article up onto the screen and discuss the findings of the rat feeding study. Rogan says of Impossible Foods’ dismissal of the results of the rat feeding study, “They’re dismissing it because it’s not convenient.”

Rogan has some advice for people who want to be on a plant based diet: “You should eat real foods: real vegetables and avocado, coconut oils. All this stuff is healthy. But when you start making sh*t look like meat, that’s when stuff gets squirrelly, because they’re adding all sorts of processed food.”

According to sources quoted by Wikipedia, in January 2015, The Joe Rogan Experience podcast was listened to by over 11 million people. By October 2015, it had grown to acquire 16 million downloads a month. In 2017 and 2018, the podcast was Apple’s second most downloaded podcast. In January 2019, the podcast won Best Comedy Podcast at the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards.