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BREAKING NEWS

Scientists to produce plastic replacement with yeast derivatives

Scientists to produce plastic replacement with yeast derivatives
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In our latest episode of Futaris, we saw how European bioengineers could be soon using yeast to manufacture drugs. Here are edited excerpts from a conversation with CHASSY project coordinator and Yeast biotechnologist, John Morrissey.

"In some cases, the consumer will not actually notice the difference, because the products that can be produced in yeast in some cases will mimic exactly what can already be produced. And for some uses, that’s very important, because some of the products, the molecules that we produce in yeast will then feed into the next part of a production chain. To produce other products that are familiar to consumers. What would be important for consumers though is that these would be produced in an environmentally sustainable fashion. And this is very important to a lot of consumers now. It’s not just what is produced — it’s how it’s produced. And for us, environmental sustainability is a crucial part of the whole ethos and rationale for a project like this. And we think that’s very important to consumers.

But there is a second dimension which is because we have the capacity to produce bio-based molecules, we also have very good potential to produce molecules that are biodegradable. And that has been a big problem for example with plastics coming from the chemical industry, which are not biodegradable. And so we hear a lot of talk about plastic pollution of oceans and so forth. There is a potential now to use yeast, or indeed other microbes, to produce the molecules that are used to make biodegradable plastics. And again, the consumer won’t necessarily notice that their cup is different. It’s a plastic cup, but now they’re a biodegradable plastic cup. And so that’s very important for a lot of consumers. And it’s important for the environment."