Precision fermentation is an evolution of the natural process of fermentation of microorganisms (like yeast, algae, or fungi), combined with the latest developments in biotechnology. In precision fermentation we use bioengineering techniques to program microorganisms by giving them a specific genetic code to produce a compound of interest when fermented under precise conditions. The genetic code is the exact copy of DNA sequence that is found in a digitized database on animal DNA sequence, however it requires no animal involvement in the process. The result is the molecularly identical ingredient, made by microorganisms, instead of animals. Precision fermentation has existed for over 30 years and has been used to help make medicines and food ingredients including insulin, rennet in cheese, natural flavors, citric acid, amino acids, and numerous vitamins commonly found in foods we eat.
Precision fermentation has existed for nearly 30 years and has been used to help make products including rennet in cheese, probiotics, citric acid, amino acids, and Vitamin B12.
While Precision Fermentation uses genetic engineering techniques, it is quite different from traditional genetically modified crops familiar to most consumers. Precision Fermentation uses genetically engineered microorganisms in the fermentation process, but the modified organisms are typically filtered out after fermentation, leaving only the specific compounds/ingredients that they’ve been designed to create. If the end product does not contain any genetically modified material, it is not considered a GMO or required to be labeled as “bioengineered,” by current U.S. regulatory standards.
Whereas plant-based alternatives are intended to mimic animal-based foods using plant ingredients, precision fermentation recreates ingredients that are nature-identical to their animal-based counterparts. That means they are equivalent in taste, texture, and nutrition to animal-based versions, but are made with no animals, and a fraction of the environmental footprint.
Leaders in precision fermentation work in lock-step with regulatory authorities around the world to make sure products made via precision fermentation abide by the highest standards. Members of the PFA must uphold vigorous standards to ensure that their products made via precision fermentation are safe, high quality, and set the benchmark for the category.