Working across industries to ensure a safer food supply
In 2017, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Mars Incorporated formed a partnership to combat aflatoxins‒naturally occurring poisons estimated to affect 25 percent of food crops and 4.5 billion people worldwide. Aflatoxins are released by certain species of fungi that grow on feed and food, including grains, groundnuts, peanuts, spices and corn. Once they get into food, they are nearly impossible to destroy. Aflatoxins can cause liver cancer and impaired growth in children, and are considered a Class 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The goal of the partnership is to identify a protein that will reduce the toxic effect of the aflatoxin and can be added to food directly, greatly reducing the impact of these poisons in developing countries where the amount of aflatoxins in food products is not well regulated.
"Biology runs on a digital code, DNA – the software of life, that we can now design, write, modify and manufacture to engineer more effective, scalable solutions to real-world problems. This project has the potential to demonstrate the power of synthetic biology as a key discipline for a sustainable future."