GMO Perfume, Anyone?
It's no secret that I oppose GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) technology. The notion of consuming vegetables with lethal viruses and pesticides built-in to their DNA is not only non-appetizing to me, but also has taken a toll on the environment that we are only now beginning to see (the alarming rates of honeybee deaths, for instance).
With a technology that is defined as "Synthetic Biology", scientists in large phramaceutical firms are interfering with natural yeast fermentation by injecting it with DNA that will convince it to turn organic matter into molecules otherwise occurring in precious spices such as vanilla, saffron and cinnamon does not excite me either. It's a process similar to beer fermentation - but produces various molecules instead of ethanol (the grain alcohol found in beer).
There is much that we don't know about the world of fungi, and it's role in this earth's ecology and it cringes me to think how our planet's health could be further compromised. Not to mention its implication on growing true spices in (mostly poor) countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil and many more than I can even list here. And it will affect many farmers, perfumery raw material growers, and distillers. In Madagascar alone there are 80,000 vanilla farmers, poor and honest people that tediously hand-fertilize their orchids and provide us with real vanilla beans. We might just have to forget about vanilla beans, and those farmers will just have to support their families by digging cassava roots from the ground.
"The advent of synthetic biology raises thorny economic and regulatory issues, such as whether such yeast-made ingredients can be called natural and whether developing countries dependent on these crops will be hurt".
Science has become a greed-driven industry that releases its Frankenstein into the wild way too soon.
Let's just follow our greed, and find out about the consequences are later. I'm certain that the solutions to the problems that will arise will be bring a steady flow of cash to those who created these problems in the first place.