Our goal at Soylent is to engineer nutritionally-complete food products that are optimized for modern consumers' lifestyles and budgets. Above all, we want to make healthy nutrition easily attainable.
We base all of our nutrition decisions on commonly-accepted and replicable findings by the scientific community.
This empirical design approach has led us to two primary conclusions:
We do not view processed foods as inherently bad or unhealthy. We believe that the nutritional value of a foodstuff - regardless of whether it is prepared in a factory, a restaurant, or at a backyard barbecue - is a direct consequence of the variety of nutrients that it provides and their context within one's overall diet.
In other words, a box of instant macaroni could be unhealthy because it contains low levels of important vitamins and minerals and excess amounts of salt, cholesterol, and saturated fat - but it is not inherently unhealthy simply because it was manufactured in a factory.
Numerous scientific studies have suggested links between existing processed foods and unhealthy diets. Soylent, arguably the first mass-market foodstuff engineered from the ground-up to be nutritionally-complete, is also one of the first major products to combine the convenience of a prepackaged meal with the nutritional balance of a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be a safe and economic option for industrial food production, as long as they and their cultivars are well-researched and documented and their propagation is controlled in order to preserve the biodiversity of wild plants.
Like our views on processed foods, we don't believe that the process of genetically modifying an organism inherently damages or reduces the nutritive qualities of that organism. Before we explain further, it is necessary to review some basics of GMO foods.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is nature's source code. Like a computer program's source code, all characteristics and functions of life on earth are encoded in DNA.
The challenge is, when making changes to an organism's "source code" , occasionally unintended effects can occur - i.e. an organism could produce lower- or higher-than-normal levels of nutrients, or could produce foreign compounds not normally found in the organism.
However, these types of outcomes can result from both scientific modification of genetic code as well as conventional breeding. An examination of glycoalkaloids - a natural toxin produced in potatoes - helps to illustrate this point.
Even though glycoalkaloids can be harmful to humans, because the quantity naturally produced in potatoes is so small, we can safely consume potatoes without worrying about becoming sick.
When a potato farmer uses conventional methods to breed a new strain of potato (this is done by putting the pollen from the male potato plant on the stigma of the female potato plant), after the resulting strain is grown, the potato farmer tests to make sure that the new potato strain has the usual low, and therefore safe, glycoalkaloid levels.
In the same way that farmers check for safe glycoalkaloid levels, all of the GMO ingredients found in Soylent are extensively tested and proven to be safe. In fact, federal regulation requires much more testing of new genetically-produced crops than new non-genetically produced plants.
We encourage our supporters to further educate themselves about GMOs. For more information, this Q and A by the World Health Organization objectively discusses the pros and cons of GMOs.
Like the World Health Organization, we don't view genetic engineering as something that is always good or always bad. Instead, we view it as a tool, that if properly utilized can improve agriculture for industrial use and human consumption.
We recognize that some of those interested in Soylent are curious about which of our ingredients are GMOs. In order to give our supporters as much information as possible about our product, in the future we plan to label all GMO ingredients on our ingredient pages.
This book is an useful resource that includes citations to several hundred other studies on the discourse of GMOs.