Jason Kelly, founder of the microbe engineering company Ginkgo Bioworks, wants those who work in the often-contentious field of GMOs to stand proud. After all, they’re ushering the world into the greener, cleaner future that biotechnology can create.
“We should be embracing genetic engineering and GMOs as one of the most important technologies we have available to us to improve everything — food, clothing, fragrances, medicine, really everything we make,” Kelly told the Alliance for Science.
Ginkgo Bioworks, which Kelly and others founded while still at MIT, is already tapping into “the ultimate technology” by designing custom microbes for a variety of clients. The Boston-based company has developed software to search DNA sequences for useful enzymes and software-directed robots to automate work previously performed laboriously by bench scientists. As a result, it’s been able to speed up the process of producing yeast and other microbes while keeping costs down. Some 40 percent of the world’s gene printing — printing new pieces of DNA to insert into genomes — is now done at Ginkgo.
“Growing things is the manufacturing technology for Earth…When you think about all that amazing technology out there in nature, well, we’ve just gotten access to the code. What a gift. Now that we have the code, we can engineer what we want. All physical goods will end up being made with biology. That is the obvious endpoint of this. That’s the potential. People don’t even know it’s possible yet.”
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