First scientists unveiled a lab-created burger, and now more and more synthetic foods are popping up. Evolva, a Swiss synthetic biology company, has created synbio (short for synthetic biology), vanillin and saffron, and are marketed as alternatives to artificial flavoring. The creation of synbio foods involves extracting the genes from a saffron or vanillin plant, and giving them to yeast, to create the plant via fermentation, and it’s being touted as “the next stage in genetic engineering.”
The difference between artificial and synthetic flavorings, is that artificial flavoring more imitates vanilla or saffron extract, whereas the synbio version uses the actual genetics to re-create the plant within a laboratory setting.The synthetic vanillin will actually be a lot closer in flavor to real vanilla than the artificial flavoring found in most food products. Also, real saffron is incredibly labor-intensive to grow, and as a result, is one of the most expensive spices in the world, but according to NPR, the synbio version will be a lot easier and cheaper to make.
Evolva is performing safety tests on both products, and they are expected to hit the market in two years. The company is also testing out synthetic Stevia (the natural sweetener), as well as resveratrol the natural compound found in grapes and red wine that has profound positive health effects.
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi