Synthetic biology companies shift to making food additives and fragrances

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CREDIT: Patrick Boyle/Ginkgo BioWorks, via Nature.

This year, a company will release a product that has been created by genetically modified yeast that converts sugars to vanillin, the chemical that makes vanilla taste like vanilla. It will be the first major synthetic-biology food additive to hit supermarkets.

The product marks a shift for the industry, which has typically focused on the synthesis of drugs and commodities such as biofuels and rubber. Now, synthetic-biology companies are turning to ‘fine chemicals’: food and fragrance ingredients that command high prices in small batches.

But the products may carry a different type of hazard: consumer rejection. By creating products designed to be ingested or put on the body, synthetic-biology companies are starting to attract the attention of groups that oppose the use of genetically modified (GM) organisms.

Read the full, original article: Synthetic-biology firms shift focus

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