Green startup C16 Biosciences has developed a lab-grown alternative to palm oil. Palm oil—an industry that is estimated to be worth $88 billion—is used in a number of everyday products such as food, clothes, shampoo, cosmetics, and fuel and is associated with deforestation of rainforests in Costa Rica and Indonesia to make way for palm tree plantations, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and destroying habitats for people and endangered wild animals along the way. Using synthetic biology, C16 was able to create a sustainable, environmentally-friendly alternative to palm oil using yeast, that grows in tap water, and feeding it a feedstock or carbon source to multiply. Given the wide use of palm oil in products, the company is concentrating its efforts to replace the use of palm oil in a portion of the market, starting with the skincare and cosmetics industries. “Fermentation is a well-proven commercial process that has been used for centuries to convert raw materials into consumable commercial products consumed by billions of people every day,” C16’s website says. “We believe that brewing palm oil like beer is the best and most likely path to developing a truly sustainable palm oil alternative.”

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