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Synthetic biology, often called synbio, is an emerging application of genetic modification that involves the practice of changing an organism such as yeast or algae so that it makes a substance it is not able to make naturally. The process requires artificially created DNA that mimics naturally occurring DNA in other organisms.

A number of substances produced by synthetic biology are currently being used in consumer products, including food, cosmetics, fragrances, pharmaceutical products, detergents and soaps. Because synthetic biology is so new, no legal framework exists to regulate it.

Advocates for synthetic biology claim that its products are “just like” the naturally occurring products. This is scientifically questionable because the synbio product is NOT exactly the same as the product derived from natural sources. The products of synthetic biology are produced with genetic engineering that creates DNA not found in nature.

The Non-GMO Project has no evidence based on testing that synbio products are safe. Until these products have been demonstrated to be safe, the Non-GMO Project has applied the precautionary principle and has zero tolerance for synbio ingredients in its standard.

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