Synthetische Biologie und Lebensmittel: Verbesserung der Lebensmittelproduktion an den Bausteinen


Synthetische Biologie und Lebensmittel: Verbesserung der Lebensmittelproduktion an den Bausteinen

Synthetische Biologie und Lebensmittel: Verbesserung der Lebensmittelproduktion an den Bausteinen

Wissenschaftler nutzen die synthetische Biologie, um qualitativ hochwertigere und nachhaltigere Lebensmittel herzustellen.
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    • 20. Dezember 2022

    Researchers are developing synthetic or lab-made edible products to enhance and expand the food chain. According to a study published in the Nature journal, it's highly likely that you will have consumed or used synthetic biology in some way by 2030.

    Synthetic biology and food context

    According to Successful Farming, the world's population is projected to grow by 2 billion by 2050, increasing the global demand for food production by nearly 40 percent. With more people to feed, there will be a greater need for protein. However, shrinking land masses, rising carbon emissions and sea levels, and erosion prevent food production from keeping up with forecasted demand. This challenge can be potentially resolved by the application of synthetic or lab-made biology, enhancing and expanding the food chain.

    Synthetic biology combines biological research and engineering concepts. This discipline draws from information, life, and social sciences to control cellular functions through wiring circuitry and understanding how different biological systems are designed. Not only is the combination of food science and synthetic biology seen as an effective method to solve current challenges with food safety and nutrition, but this emerging scientific discipline may prove vital in improving current unsustainable food technologies and practices.

    Synthetic biology will allow for food production using cloned cell factories, diverse microorganisms, or cell-free biosynthesis platforms. This technology may improve resource conversion efficiency and eliminate traditional agriculture's drawbacks and high carbon emissions.

    Störende Wirkung

    In 2019, plant-based food manufacturer Impossible Foods released a burger that "bleeds." Impossible Foods believes that blood, specifically the iron-containing heme, creates more meaty flavors, and aromas are enhanced when soy leghemoglobin is added to a plant-based burger. To infuse these substances into their beef patty replacement, Impossible Burger, the firm uses DNA synthesis, genetic part libraries, and a positive feedback loop for autoinduction. The Impossible Burger requires 96 percent less land and 89 percent less greenhouse gas to produce. This burger is just one of the company's many products in over 30,000 restaurants and 15,000 grocery stores worldwide.

    Meanwhile, startup KnipBio engineers fish feed from a microbe found on leaves. They edit its genome to increase carotenoids important to fish health and use fermentation to stimulate its growth. The microbes are then exposed to extreme heat for a brief period, dried, and milled. Other agricultural projects include synthesizing organisms that produce large quantities of vegetable oil and nut trees that can be grown indoors using much less water than typically required while producing twice as many nuts.

    And in 2022, US-based biotech company Pivot Bio made a synthetic nitrogen fertilizer for corn. This product addresses the problem of using industrially produced nitrogen that consumes 1-2 percent of global energy. Bacteria that fix nitrogen from the air can act as biological fertilizer, but they are not viable with cereal crops (corn, wheat, rice). As a solution, Pivot Bio genetically modified a nitrogen-fixing bacteria that associate strongly with corn roots.

    Implications of applying synthetic biology to food production

    Wider implications of applying synthetic biology toward food production may include: 

    • Industrial farming shifting from livestock to lab-made protein and nutrients.
    • More ethical consumers and investors calling for a transition to sustainable farming and food production.
    • Governments incentivizing agriculturalists to become more sustainable by offering subsidies, equipment, and resources. 
    • Regulators creating new inspection offices and hiring officers specialized in the oversight of synthetic food production facilities.
    • Food manufacturers heavily investing in lab-made substitutes for fertilizer, meat, dairy products, and sugar.
    • Researchers continually discovering new food nutrients and form factors that may eventually replace traditional agriculture and fisheries.
    • Future generates being exposed to new foods and food categories made possible through synthetic production techniques. These novel foods will lead to an explosion of new recipes, niche restaurants, as well as current and future holidays adapting celebratory dining traditions that incorporate these new foods.

    Fragen zum Kommentieren

    • What are the possible risks of synthetic biology?
    • How else do you think synthetic biology may change how people consume food?


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