Biotech business news

Sep 162016
 
The Monsanto–Bayer tie-up is just one of seven; Mega-Mergers and Big Data Domination Threaten Seeds, Food Security

by ETC Group Policymakers could still block the agribiz mergers; peasants and farmers will continue the fight for seeds and rights Wednesday’s confirmation that Monsanto and Bayer have agreed to a $66 billion merger is just the latest of four M&A announcements, but at least three more game-changing mergers are in play (and flying under the radar).  The acquisition activity is no longer just about seeds and pesticides but about global control of agricultural inputs [More]

Jul 192016
 
Why Kickstarter’s Glowing Plant Left Backers in the Dark

by Antonio Regalado (MIT Technology Review) In any discussion of biohacking, Exhibit A is likely to be the “glowing plant,” the wildly successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign that raised $484,013 to create bioluminescent plants visible at night. Just one problem, though. There is still no glowing plant. The Glowing Plant project, since renamed Taxa Biotechnologies, has not made any plants able to emit light unassisted. The seeds it promised to its backers are already two years [More]

Jun 152016
 
Meet the New Stevia! GMOs 2.0 Get Dressed for Success

by Stacy Malkan (The Huffington Post) Our culture is smitten with the notion that technology can save us – or at least create great business opportunities! Cargill, for example, is working on a new food technology that mimics stevia, a sugar substitute derived from plant leaves, for the “exploding sports nutrition market.” Cargill’s new product, EverSweet, uses genetically engineered yeast to convert sugar molecules to mimic the properties of stevia, with no need for the [More]

Mar 152016
 
Biofuel or Biofraud? The Vast Taxpayer Cost of Failed Cellulosic and Algal Biofuels

by Almuth Ernsting (Independent Science News) Biofuels consumed today are usually ethanol made from the sugar in sugar cane (or sugar beet) or they may be made from starch in grains. In the US this is mostly corn starch. Alternatively, biodiesel may be made from plant oils such as soybean or canola oil. Cellulosic biofuels, on the other hand, are biofuels made from crop residues (e.g. corn stover), wood, or whole plants, especially grasses (e.g. [More]

Feb 262016
 
Not cheap and not plentiful: Hyped-up synthetic biology claims take another blow as malaria drug production plant shuts down

by Almuth Ernsting Synthetic biology is being heavily promoted and funded as a way to produce large quantities of cheap industrial products, including biofuels. But so far affordable, large-scale manufacture with synbio organisms has proven elusive. Synbio start-up companies that set out to produce high volumes of low-cost biofuels have switched to low volumes of expensive chemicals, cosmetics and food additives instead. Many are still struggling to stay afloat. Sanofi’s synthetic artemisinin, an anti-malaria drug, [More]

Jul 172014
 

[This article was originally published in The Ecologist.] Following The Ecologist’s revelation about Ecover’s use of synthetic biology to make laundry detergent, the company has put its trials on hold, writes Jim Thomas. But to regain public trust, the company must re-engage honestly with its critics, and its customers. A month ago, The Ecologist revealed that ‘eco-friendly’ soap maker Ecover was using an algae oil produced using synthetic biology (Syn Bio), sometimes called ‘extreme genetic engineering’. And now tens [More]

May 302014
 
Companies Quietly Apply Biofuel Tools to Household Products

This article originally appeared in the New York Times. By STEPHANIE STROM MAY 30, 2014 Consumer products containing ingredients made using an advanced form of engineering known as synthetic biology are beginning to show up more often on grocery and department store shelves. A liquid laundry detergent made by Ecover, a Belgian company that makes “green” household products including the Method line, contains an oil produced by algae whose genetic code was altered using synthetic [More]

Oct 222013
 

Reposted from the New York Times October 20, 2013 EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Vanilla, saffron, patchouli. For centuries, spices and flavorings like these have come from exotic plants growing in remote places like the jungles of Mexico or the terraced hillsides of Madagascar. Some were highly prized along ancient trading routes like the Silk Road. Now a powerful form of genetic engineering could revolutionize the production of some of the most sought-after flavors and fragrances. Rather [More]

May 072013
 
Mass Release of Synthetically Engineered Plant Seeds via Kickstarter Campaign Draws Protest

An Israeli company seeks to use a loophole in US regulations on genetically engineered plants to conduct a mass release of a genetically modified organism (a glow in the dark Arabidopsis plant) with no regulatory review. Current US regulations, which would apply if the plant were modified using non-synthetic techniques, don’t cover the new gene insertion methods being promoted by synthetic biology companies. Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Action on Erosion, Technology and Concentration [More]

Apr 132013
 
Synthetic Anti-Malarial Compound is Bad News for Artemisia Farmers

by Jim Thomas Originally published by the Guardian UK Artemisinin breakthrough by synthetic biologists threatens to open new front in battle between microbes and people   In the constant fight between microbes and people, attempts to rein in the malarial parasite have just taken an interesting turn. On Thursday April 11 the founder of Amyris Biotech triumphantly announced production of 70m doses of the anti-malarial compound artemisinin. This sounds like good news for poor people but may be [More]