Hard candy

Uma má aposta na biologia sintética

LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas parece ser um lugar apropriado para lançar uma aposta empresarial arriscada, susceptível de destruir o meio de subsistência de milhões de pequenos agricultores. No início deste mês, o conglomerado internacional de produtos alimentares Cargill escolheu a célebre zona do Las Vegas Strip para apresentar o que a empresa espera venha a ser o seu próximo produto de sucesso: o EverSweet, um edulcorante produzido a partir "dos mesmos componentes doces da planta stevia."

Contudo, apesar de a Cargill fazer uma forte referência à stevia nos seus materiais promocionais, o EverSweet não contém uma única folha desta planta. O novo produto da Cargill é um exemplo da biologia sintética, uma forma de engenharia genética que utiliza organismos modificados para produzir compostos que nunca seriam produzidos de forma natural. O sabor doce do EverSweet não tem origem na stevia, mas sim num composto produzido por uma levedura resultante de um processo de bioengenharia.

A biologia sintética é uma tecnologia bastante avançada, mas comporta também um risco potencial elevado. Mobilizando milhares de milhões de dólares em investimento, suscita actualmente uma preocupação crescente a nível internacional. É revelador o facto de a Cargill não fazer a promoção do seu produto em torno da utilização de uma tecnologia controversa, mas sim classificando o EverSweet como o produto de uma "levedura de panificação de fabrico especial", como se fosse uma receita existente há séculos nas aldeias da Baviera.

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