In Eco Childs Play, Jennifer Lance warns of a new product, Synbio Vanilla, being labeled as “natural” that is anything but:
As a consumer, I do depend on the term “natural” to identify products I feel comfortable feeding my family. I do read labels. Even my kids read labels. I trust in ingredients I can pronounce and have heard of before. Vanilla, is obviously, one of those ingredients that gives me assurance over the synthetic, gluten containing vanillin. Now, the FDA is poised to approve an “extreme” genetically engineered version of vanilla called Synbio that could be allowed in products labeled “natural”. What is Synbio Vanilla? Friends of the Earth (FOE) explains: A new ingredient straight out of a petri dish is about to enter the global food supply in many of our favorite foods including ice cream. And like many of the products of genetic engineering, it won’t be labeled — instead it is being marketed as “natural”. But this ingredient is anything but “natural”. This product, synbio vanilla, is made via an extreme form of genetic engineering called synthetic biology, and is on its way to market should the FDA approve it this next year. Synbio vanilla was designed to replace natural vanillin flavoring from vanilla beans, which are grown by small family farmers in rainforests across the globe. Instead, synbio is made in labs using synthetic DNA and reprogrammed, genetically engineered yeast. This new synbio vanilla doesn’t come from a plant at all but will be labeled as “natural” on product labels. Similarly to genetic engineered products, synbio vanilla has been virtually untested, unregulated, and is anything but “natural” or “sustainable”.