Updated: Aug 14
In the recent years, biotech companies have been re-introducing the newly "repackaged" GMO technologies; synthetic biology / precision fermentation. These are fancy marketing terms to hide the fact that these technologies are not only very risky, but they are simply unproven GMO 2.0 technology. Sadly, these products are not even required to carry a GMO label.
Microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast are genetically engineered to produce complex protein molecules that mimic those found naturally in meat and dairy products. This biotech production process is called "precision fermentation."
During last five years, we witnessed 250% increase in start-up biotech companies -now numbering more than 400- using synthetic biology / precision fermentation techniques. Their "unrestrained" meddling with nature to create animal-free dairy, meat and egg products, animal-free ice cream, food flavorings such as vanilla, fragrances, and many other substances meant for human consumption, is justified by the biotech industry with un-quantifiable arguments such as animal welfare and assumed impact of conventional animal agriculture on the environment.
The market for synthetic biology products in North America is expected to expand from US$ 4 billion in 2021 to US$ 15 billion by 2028. If this pace holds, the synthetic-bio dairy products will fairly soon put traditional dairy farmers and farm workers out of business.
Precision fermentation is different !
We’ve used fermentation for thousands of years to make all kinds of common foodstuffs such as bread, yogurt, vinegar, tofu and pickles, as well as beer and wine. Traditional methods of fermenting foods or herbs to get specific therapeutic or nutritional metabolites is not what we're concerned about. Precision fermentation, as the name suggests, is different. It is the coming together of modern information technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the cloud, with modern bio-technologies like genetic engineering, synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, systems biology, bioinformatics and computational biology.
The BE (Bio-Engineering) technology is subject to very little regulatory oversight, and BE products are without a doubt unnatural!
US Congress passed the National Bio-engineered Food Disclosure Standard in 2016 and launched it in 2020. This rule establishes the new national mandatory bioengineered (BE) food disclosure standard (NBFDS or Standard). It requires food manufacturers, importers, and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about BIO ENGINEERED (BE) food and ingredients. Yet, the BE products are not required to carry a GMO label. As a result, biotech start-ups deceive the consumers to believe that they are buying purely natural products !!!
Other main areas of concern are "feed and waste."
Synthetic biology companies are not required to disclose the source of their feed and what happens to the waste that’s left over after the precision fermentation is done. Feed is basically sugars and proteins which come from the cheapest possible industrial source of GMO soy and GMO corn for the most part. So we are back to the GMO problem.
What about the bio-waste? What's left over from traditional fermenting of sourdough or beer or spirits are typically natural organisms that are consumable by animals, or they are composted. However, what's left over from synthetic biology precision fermentation (upwards of 90% of what goes into the bioreactor) is a whole set of gene edited (and potentially antibiotic-resistant) microorganisms that can't go to the land fill, and have to be securely disposed off or incinerated. There is no regulation about this at all.
Fans of plant-based foods should be furious with BE as well.
Synthetic biology/precision fermentation technologies are hiding underneath plant-based foods all of the suspect highly processed foods that are grown in mega size industrial facilities that have nothing to do with agriculture.
GMOs are now in more than 75% of processed foods. Natural products community is being targeted by a coordinated global campaign by the notorious GMO lobby, now emboldened and backed by technology moguls, to force the adoption of synthetics in natural channels.