C16 Biosciences, a start-up in New York founded in 2017, is producing oil that has a very similar composition and function as palm oil. Their move may put a stop to the massacre of rainforests for the cultivation of palm oil.
Palm oil is the most significant vegetable oil as it is used in most of our daily-use products. It is a highly efficient and versatile oil that is used in about 50 percent of our supermarket products. It is used in shampoos and soaps. It is also used in food items ranging from ice creams to pizza dough.
Globally, about 75.7 million metric tons of palm oil enter the market every year. About 3 billion people from 150 countries use this oil. In other words, every person consumes about 8 kilograms of this oil per year.
As palm oil demand is estimated to quadruple by 2050, a synthetic production procedure is a welcome change. Every year the burning of these tree plantations leads to great amounts of carbon dioxide emission. This neo oil, created from the fermentation process of yeast cells, is thus an important one.
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According to Sara Ticku, CEO and co-founder of C16 Biosciences, they are aiming to end the deforestation that the production of palm oil causes globally. Tiku said that the idea of burning rainforests to obtain a vegetable oil makes no sense and so, they would stop the destruction of the Earth at least from this angle.
Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire, along with some other investors had established a fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures. This fund aims to find and support innovative technological and financial products to fight climate change. It invested 20 million dollars into C16 Biosciences and hopes to bring its products out into the market soon. Their first target would be small scale manufacturers who rely on palm oil.
The search narrows down to beauty products manufacturers who need palm oil in a relatively small capacity and are currently facing a demand to obtain “clean beauty products”.
CEO Ticku believes that they could make the faux oil enter the beauty market more easily than the food market. And as it is obtained from a fermentation process similar to making beer, it would be natural too.
If successful in the industry, this neo oil could put an end to the slash and burn cultivation of the rainforests and help the planet breathe.
All images: C16 Biosciences