Cheese Made From Human DNA. Has Science Gone Too Far? Is this considered cannibalism?
You’re probably wondering… is this cannibalism?
They’re calling it “Real Vegan Cheese”. iGem, a biohacker group based in San Francisco, CA, says they have successfully created synthetic milk-free cheese using human DNA strands.
Surprisingly, iGem hasn’t faced an enormous backlash like many would expect. This is probably due to the simple fact that animal products are completely absent from this new product. According to the developers, the human DNA strands will hopefully decrease chances of allergic reactions experienced with cheese from other species.
The developers run down the process of creating Real Vegan Cheese on their indiegogo page.
“It all begins with regular old baker’s yeast. Through synthetic biology, we engineer our yeast to become milk-protein factories, churning out real milk proteins (known as caseins). These milk proteins are then combined with water, vegan sugar and oil to make a kind of milk which is ultimately converted into Real Vegan Cheese using the age-old cheese-making process… To create our proteins, we study animal genomes to find natural milk-protein genetic sequences. We optimize the genes for use in yeast and synthesize the resulting yeast milk protein DNA from scratch. This DNA is then put into yeast cells where the cellular machinery takes over and produces real milk-protein from the DNA blueprint provided by us. No animal products involved. Plus the purified proteins will be identical to those found in regular cheese, and will not contain any GMO!”
In the video below, they explain how they genetically modify the yeast to create that raw cheese protein! Can you get swole off this?
“As a health conscious and ecologically responsible collective, we have our own concerns about our process. We do not want to produce food in a way that replicates the shortcomings of some existing Genetic Engineering companies. One of our major challenges will be to evaluate whether the technology we work with is safe. We will need to continually re-evaluate risks and design safe-guards that prevent or limit potential dangers to individuals, humanity or the planet as a whole.”
Author’s Opinion: iGem has raised $37,369 for Real Vegan Cheese, greatly surpassing their original goal of $15,000. Aside from the fact that this is probably the most bizarre thing I’ve come across in the past few months, I can’t help but be impressed with this advancement. Though some people get uneasy at the mention of “synthetic”, I prefer to see what it has to offer. After all, synthetic isn’t a synonym for poisonous. There are plenty of natural things that will kill you too.
The beauty in this is simple: people who were unable to enjoy cheese before because of a lactose allergy or personal choice now have the option. The only catch is they have to wrap their head around eating human DNA.
So what do you think? Has science gone too far? Do you support synthetic alternatives? Please comment below and share!
Requested Edit by the “Real Vegan Cheese” Team.
“…I’m seeing that others are reporting that we’re using human DNA and asking if this is cannibalism. The DNA we use is not extracted from humans nor any animals. Since the entire genome for both humans and cows have been sequenced, we simply looked up the DNA sequences for cheese proteins in an online database. We then had the DNA synthesized from scratch based on the sequence information. The synthesized DNA is what we are using in our yeast. Our yeast contains no animal products, only DNA constructed based on information from animals. If you’re willing to post an addendum or something, then we would really appreciate it…” – January 6, 2015