I know that Soylent is by no means a pharmaceutical, a drug or anything that might fall into the category of a medical intervention. However, as more people use it, are there plans to conduct clinical, drug-style randomized controlled trials to more accurately observe the risks and benefits of this health “intervention” in people?
After all, RCTs are the best and most fair way we can know whether one intervention works better than placebo (or some other currently available intervention), so why not use this tool to try and understand Soylent better? The devil lies in the detail, and by carefully and independently giving access to pooled data from such trials in a regular and almost automatic fashion, and having more eyes on this data, I believe the potential benefits and risks can be better understood.
I don’t know how many people are currently using this or whether a trial of such a scale is even possible at the moment, but what is important is that the plural of anecdote is not data. Transparency is also vital here, not necessarily in full disclosure of ingredients used, but in making data about these trials available to everyone.
I know that no other food company bothers to do this. Soylent, I feel, should take a more responsible approach, not because it is potentially a more all-encompassing “intervention” (you could exclusively live off fast-food, for example), but because it should set the example for other food manufacturers and be responsible and evidence-based about food just like everything else.
I think it’s a great concept but trials need to be run on this intervention to fully understand benefits and risks.