GMO & Organic


It is indeed more complicated than I said. @TimOfficeHuel might enjoy reading the UK Govt “guidance” although it relies on the EU standard, so will presumably be revised in coming months?

Anyway that says,

What counts as Organic farming can include:

  • avoiding artificial fertilisers and pesticides
  • using crop rotation and other forms of husbandry to maintain soil fertility
  • controlling weeds, pesticides and diseases using husbandry techniques and where necessary approved materials to control pests and diseases
  • using a limited number of approved products and substances where necessary in the processing of organic food


If an organic version was released, even at a significant markup, I would be buying it. Mostly because of the damage that misused pesticides can do to the farmland and to the people who have the misfortune to work with them. If used right, pesticides are not a problem, but if the people who sell the pesticides give the instructions on use then stuff can get pretty bad;

Part of the reason I don’t buy Ambronite is that I don’t trust their nutritional science. Further, I suspect the high price of Ambronite is the result of more than just being organic.


Yep, I’d buy an organic version if the markup seemed fair (300% is too much, but 50% might work). That said, @TimOfficeHuel, it may be, ahm, complicated: the Soil Association’s food and drink standards say that (Section 40.8.15) “You may only use vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements in organic products if the law requires you to.” (examples of legal requirements include bread and margarine). This is a little weird though, because you can get Soil Assn certified organic vitamins. I guess that these are handled separately under “Health and Beauty” standards, so there’d be a key question to answer here as to whether Huel fell under “Food and Drink” or “Health and Beauty”… I’d sympathise with any reluctance to certify “functional” foods because they do go somewhat against the organic “minimally processed whole foods” ideal, but there must be a way of legally advertising organic content if you use same.

A path I’d also be happy with is one of “made with organic ingredients”, just identifying that the bulk ingredients are all organic certified and (at a guess) not requiring you to do any of the full certification bureaucracy — that certainly seems fairer for a small producer… “Made with …” may only be an American label though; I’m not sure.

If this is something Huel would consider pursuing (perhaps you should survey your customers?), I guess the simplest thing would be an email to someone like the Soil Association just asking what options were available and rough levels of commitment involved. The rules are extensive and complex — for example there seem to be exceptions to certification requirements if you sell directly to the end user, which I think is the case for Huel? That should definitely be mentioned in any enquiry…


I share the same concerns with Babs! Simply because some people I know (working as doctors and pharmacists) are saying that consuming regularly products made from GMO crops may lead to an increased incidence of cancer in people who have consumed such products.

Any thoughts about this and, if possible, can your argumentation be supported by research studies?


It would be helpful and re-assuring indeed if something like “Made with/from organic ingredients only and GMO-free” would be written on the package. I would become a regular customer! For now, I just bought this product for the first time and started consuming it, and I like it, but I would continue with Huel only if I would get the assurance that this product is GMO-free and I would be even happier if it would be 100% organic!


Tim, have you contemplating the idea to make, let’s say 10-20% of your Huel production organic? This way you would earn another segment of potential customers who are sensitive about this issue and would be ready to pay more to have the product they demand! It’s just a thought! For my peace of mind, I would pay more to have Huel organic and GMO-free!


I can. I’ll give a link to a meta analysis of over 1,700 studies from five years ago; but first I’m going to turn that comment around on you :wink:

You say that doctors and pharmacists you know say it may lead to an increased incidence of cancer, but can you support that with any research or studies?

GM foods are one of the most investigated subjects in science and the debate about their safety should have been over in 2012, but people’s paranoia just won’t give up. Back then a team of Italian scientists cataloged and analysed 1,783 separate studies about the safety and environmental impacts of GM foods and couldn’t find a single credible example demonstrating that GM poses any harm to humans or animals - as far as I know nothing peer reviewed has come out to the contrary to that since.

All GM does is speed up a process of food modification that humans have been doing for thousands of years. If you think you’re not already eating heavily modified foods then you need to do more research.

Here’s what corn looked like before humans started messing with

and here it is after

How about carrots? Before:


Both are many times larger than their “natural” counterparts, but took hundreds of years of selective breeding and experimentation to get that way. GM just speeds up that process and let’s us be more exact - something we desperately need because over the next 50 years or so we have to increase planetary food production by around 25% - or we’ll face a starvation crisis on a scale we can’t even imagine.


Great post, though you forgot to link the meta analysis for him :stuck_out_tongue:

On that topic though, I’m unsure which meta analysis you’re referring to, but there are more, including this one which concluded this year with even more studies involved from 284 separate institutions. Same conclusion - “284 technical and scientific institutions recognize that GM crops are not riskier than those produced by conventional breeding, and/or the potential benefits of these crops”.

And a slight aside, whilst some customers would be gained by packaging demonstrating a wholly organic and non-GMO approach, others would also be lost. I’m not a Huel customer, but I consider the area of meal replacements highly scientific, and if an area so scientific started advertising with what is, to me, an incredibly unscientific viewpoint on GMOs, I’d be completely put off purchasing. Further, organic crops require 20% more land than conventional crops for the same yield, and land is a resource we’re running out of. If a product listed both organic and anti-GMO, especially one as reliant on science as meal replacements, they’d lose me as a potential customer.


Absolutely. One of the things I like about the whole complete foods industry is pushing things forward. Sure, go ‘whole food’ if that’s going to be a USP, but being anti GM just doesn’t fit for me and seems very at odds with the sector.

The meta should have been behind ‘italian scientists’


I believe I’ve already answered the point on GMO ingredients - Huel is GMO free but coincidentally.

I understand that organically produced products is important for you, but creating a separate line of Huel Powder that is organic isn’t something we are looking to do at the time of writing. We already have Original and Gluten-free Huel varieties but to satisfy the requirements of everyone this list would go on a long way:

Low carb
Sport/higher in protein
Lower in protein
More vitamins
Less vitamins

And combinations of the above too. You get the idea. Thank you @Tristan for the great link there, looking forward to getting stuck into that!


I know I’m quoting something almost a year old, but if Huel happens to be free of GMO ingredients, it should also be glyphosate-free or at least very minimal exposure to glyphosate. Glyphosate can’t be sprayed onto non-GMO crops and instead have to be carefully applied to weeds only, the whole thing about roundup-ready crops (one of the first Monsanto GMOs) is that you can spray the whole area with glyphosate.

I was lucky enough to be taught by a world expert on crop evolution. There are potential issues with GMOs, but they’re mainly environmental- soil health, vector transmission of spliced genes, etc. The major controversy with Monsanto is their contracts with farmers- patented seeds increased costs for many small farmers, without enough of a yield increase to compensate.


Sorry for the delay on this one, we’ve been rounding up statements from all our suppliers. Pea Protein, Brown Rice Protein, MCT Powder, Sunflower Oil Powder and Flaxseeds are all Glyphosate free. Our Oat flour supplier confirms that their cereals are regularly tested for glyphosate and customers can be reassured that if any glyphosate is found in their products it would be at a level that is well below those set in European Regulations or that would be of any health concern.

I hope this helps you out.


Generally speaking, while this is technically so, this is only half of the truth. In non-GMO agriculture it is used before sowing. And/or before the harvest, to accelerate ripeness. Nothing careful about either of these. So a test on remnants of it is very appropriate.


Ambronite is a bit on the extreme side re prices. There is also e.g. Bertrand in a vegan version, which is not only organic but also gets all the necessary vitamins+minerals purely from the ingredients, so none added. It is 9€ for 2000 kcals (single purchase) vs. 7€ for 2000 kcals of Huel (abo). That isn’t an extreme difference. The protein content is lower, which may make it easier to keep prices reasonable, but is still within the official recommendations.


My comment was posted 9 months ago so I’m sure some things have changed :+1:


Outlining company objectives needs to be placed here somewhere. The argument for pro-GMO so as to feed the world is one thing. Basing a company model of a product that is animal ingredient free and a complete nutrition suplimemt is another. Is your product aiming to save the world? or feed rich people with a healthy drink?

Also, there isn’t much talk of using discarded ingredients (food scraps).


Planetarians are doing something interesting along those lines, ish, Https://