Shampoo & The Sumatran Orangutan - A Scientific Effort to Save Them Both:
Could yeast metabolic engineering make palm oil obsolete?
Engineered yeast may be the key to achieving sustainability within the palm oil industry, but implementation of this technology may not be easy.
Palm oil production is decimating the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, as native trees are bulldozed and replaced with the lucrative crop. In the process, animal populations have become threatened as their natural habitats are being destroyed to feed demand for what has essentially become a staple ingredient in some of the world’s most-consumed goods. As opposition to the palm oil industry rises, some scientists have dedicated themselves to developing and optimizing a potential solution. This solution: yeast that can synthesize fatty alcohols, currently derived from palm oil, all on their own. The question then becomes whether or not this technology is even feasible, and if so, is it really our best option in reducing environmental impact?