Gelatin comes from animals, right? Yes, but there's a San Francisco startup working to change that. Gelzen is using bacteria make what it says is real gelatin—not a similar, plant-derived substitute.
The process sounds simple, if a little sci-fi. Gelzen programs bacteria and yeast with the same genetic program that produces gelatin in animal tissue, then uses the strains to ferment gelatin.
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The goal, says the company's co-founder and CEO Alex Lorestani, is to introduce an environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free alternative to a product used all around the world. Before he started Gelzen, Lorestani studied antibiotic-resistant bacteria. "When I learned that more than 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are deployed on animal factory farms, I began to appreciate the tremendous impact that this process had on human health," he says. "Since then, a body of evidence supporting the flow of antibiotic-resistant pathogens from farms into communities has emerged. I saw replacing animal-derived proteins with recombinant proteins as a powerful tool in addressing this global problem."