‘Synbio’ and SMOs – the debate

o-MEDICAL-LAB-facebook_064505The latest issue of Ethical Consumer magazine includes a feature on synthetic biology (‘synbio’) and synthetically modified organisms (SMOs) being used in detergents and household cleaning products.

It highlights one of our competitors’ use of algal oil, which is ‘virtually’ the same as the ingredient it derives from – palm oil. But with one big difference: it is synthetically created in a lab.

There are some arguments that using synbio methods provides a more sustainable option, that these new techniques are a response to problems associated with unsustainable ingredients like palm oil – tropical deforestation, biodiversity loss and poor working conditions to name some. There is specific controversy over this particular synthetically-modified ingredient of algal oil, however, as it is claimed that sugar is needed for it to grow – with the main source of that sugar coming from Brazilian sugarcane. And it is argued that many of the problems associated with palm oil are present in the harvesting of sugarcane, so that in this particular case, the problem ‘is being shuffled around’ rather than a more sustainable alternative being sought.

(The article highlights Bio-D’s use of coconut oil which requires little use of pesticides in harvest and has a higher level of farm bio-diversity.)

Still, in an era where alternative products such as ‘vegan eggs’ and cow-free milk are being developed in labs, should we consider synbio methods if they are more sustainable? Are synbio methods safe, and how will they be regulated? What about the knock-on effect of synbio production on the livelihood of farmers across the globe who produce agricultural crops, the need for which could be wiped out? There are lots of different arguments on the subject of synbio, as covered in the Ethical Consumer feature, and the debate is set to continue.

Here at Bio-D, we will be watching developments closely, yet we are 100% committed to creating products that are 100% natural; Bio-D products contain no SMOs.

 

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