Fang Talks

11 03 16

Natural aversion

Some people have this strange… fear of modern production methods.

There was this documentary being shown last night, about all those “100% natural” labels they’re slapping onto every product these days. A focus was vanilla, how products claimed to be “100% natural” without actually using vanilla from the plant. As it turns out, they’ve come up with quite the ingenious process for creating vanillin (main component of vanilla, it gives the taste and smell). They use genetically modified yeast to produce vanillin for them!

I had a short discussion with my parents, in which I argued that this “synthetic” vanilla is no different from the stuff you extract from the vanilla plants. It’s vanillin, after all. And that’s just a specific arrangement of atoms combining to make a substance. As it turns out, after extracting from actual plants, there’s a couple other compounds present, but still, vanillin can’t be worse than vanillin and a bunch of other things, right?

Still, my parents had this whole “yeah I don’t know” attitude going on. They understood that vanillin is vanillin, regardless of where it came from, but maybe the vanillin obtained from genetically modified yeast was worse for you somehow? I think it’s just the scare-factor of all the things involved they know nothing about. Genetic modification has lead to unhealthy foods once or twice, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad practice and can’t be used for making cool, efficient processes like vanillin-producing yeast.

But hey, that isn’t what nature intended, so it must be wrong and unhealthy and terrible, right?
~ Fang


  • 14/03/2016 (1:40 PM)

    To be honest I’m kind of in the same boat as your parents. I just can’t get over synthetic foods and genetically modified crops and things like that. I can’t even put my finger on why there is the aversion. It’s just there.

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