Hard candy

Schlechte Karten für die synthetische Biologie

LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas ist wohl der passende Ort, um ein riskantes wirtschaftliches Hasardspiel zu präsentieren, das die Lebensgrundlagen von Millionen Kleinbauern zerstören könnte. Anfang dieses Monats wählte der Nahrungsmittelkonzern Cargill den berühmten Strip, um dort sein neues Produkt zu präsentieren, von dem man sich erhofft, zum nächsten Verkaufsschlager zu werden: EverSweet, ein Süßstoff, der „aus süßen Bestandteilen der Stevia-Pflanze“ besteht.

Doch obwohl Cargill in seinen Werbematerialien Stevia ständig erwähnt, ist in EverSweet kein einziges Blatt dieser Pflanze enthalten. Das neue Produkt ist ein Beispiel synthetischer Biologie. Dabei handelt es sich um eine Form der Gentechnik, bei der modifizierte Organismen Substanzen produzieren, die auf natürlichem Wege so niemals hergestellt werden würden. Der süße Geschmack von EverSweet kommt nicht von Stevia, sondern von einer Substanz, die von biotechnisch veränderter Hefe produziert wird.

Bei synthetischer Biologie handelt es sich nicht nur Hochtechnologie, sondern auch um ein potenziell mit hohem Risiko verbundenes Unterfangen. Obwohl Investitionen in Höhe von Milliarden Dollar in diese Technologie gesteckt werden, ist sie doch auch Gegenstand wachsender internationaler Besorgnis. Bezeichnenderweise schweigt sich Cargill über den Einsatz dieser umstrittenen Technologie aus und beschreibt EverSweet stattdessen als Produkt einer „speziell hergestellten Bäckerhefe“, so als ob es sich dabei um ein jahrhundertealtes Braurezept aus bayerischen Dörfern handelt.

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