The Economist has a good article on biotech this week. The moral of the story is that there’s a lot more to biotech than the pharmaceuticals business. Industrial solvents, food products, textiles, energy production, even the feedstocks to the plastics industry can be produced from living organisms that have been appropriately wired. Early indications are very promising. As the money pours in and the public catches on, we’ll soon find out if people are as opposed to genetically modified laundry starch as they are to genetically modified corn flakes.
I was intrigued by the description of a French company mentioned late in the article: Metabolic Explorer. Assuming it works as advertised, they have a terrific business model: “In silico lead strain generation for the development of new bioprocesses to replace existing chemical syntheses.” Check out their Products and Service page.
3 thoughts on “Industrial biotech”
I’ve always thought the aversion to genetically engineered food to be a bit strange since we’ve been controlling the genetics of various species for thousands of years now. Chihuahuas sure aren’t natural, unless you subscribe to Wayne (Charles’ cousin, whose interests included tractor pulls) Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the most annoying”.
I think there is a difference in GM foods in that we ‘make’ them grow. Correct me if I am wrong. I am a newbie in this stuff but I am trying to understand. I don’t mind, say, combining wheats to get a hybrid that is more bobust in arid conditions but genetic modification is so much more than that it seems. There is so much we don’t understand and there have been no long-term studies. I also wonder how necessary it really is. “Because it’s there” isn’t always a good enough reason.
I quoted an Economist article in the original post. Here’s another good one about GM foods.
I would say the reasons people are genetically modifying plants are the same reasons they bred hybrids in the first place: higher yields for less money.
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