The New York Timesrecently revealed that some soap companies were replacing the palm oil in their products with a substitute made by
yeast algae. The controversial part is that the yeast algae are genetically altered – they’re the product of a new discipline known as synthetic biology.
I got a crash course in synthetic biology recently, and it looks to me as if it will be the next front in the never-ending GMO war. So let’s get up to speed.
Basically, synthetic biology refers to creating genes from scratch. Instead of cutting and pasting DNA from, say, a strawberry into yeast, you type in the DNA that you want, print it out, and splice that into yeast – or whatever else you like. Here’s a great video explainer:
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