food tech

The Bioengineered Hangover Cure: Changing the Conversation around GMOs with Zack Abbott of ZBiotics

Our goal with today’s show was twofold: bring you a practical holiday gift idea and to take you into the world of a synthetic biology entrepreneur. Our guest: Zack Abbott, CEO of ZBiotics.

Zack is a scientist turned businessman who is on a mission to change the conversation around GMOs. His first product is a genetically engineered probiotic that alleviates the morning-after hangover by breaking down acetaldehyde. Zack says he chose this product because it’s something consumers can choose to take—unlike a medicine that’s necessary like insulin.

“In general, people never got a choice with GMOs. But with ZBiotics, it’s an option. We clearly label every box and every bottle: “This product is proudly GMO.” And then we talk about what genetic engineering is and how it benefits the end user."

We chat with Zack about a day in the life of a synbio CEO. It’s not all about PR. There have been logistical challenges working with probiotics.

But even there, it does come back to the stigma around GMOs, for some suppliers who want to use the organic butterfly sticker are hesitant to work with them. Zack says the new synbio industry needs the “Responsibly Engineered” Bumblebee sticker. Let's own this, he says.

Hear, hear!

SynBioBeta 2020 with John Cumbers

Synthetic biology was surging like perhaps no other bio-based industry when the pandemic struck, and it has had some unique weapons in its arsenal for aiding in the fight against COVID. There are the leading vaccine makers such as Moderna using synthetic biology, as well as antibody technology and CRISPR based testing. But many of the surging trends from the last year have only been made more urgent this year: small molecules, food tech, synthetic materials.

Living with a pandemic is making humans more aware of our scientific dependence.

Today, it's our annual check in with the synthetic biology space—a review of the year and a preview of the leading conference for the industry, SynBioBeta 2020. There’s no one better to do that with than founder John Cumbers. SynBioBeta 2020 takes place this September 29-October 1. And because it’s virtual, you can attend from anywhere.

'The Movement:' John Cumbers Previews the Rapidly Growing SynBioBeta 2019

Synthetic biology is experiencing a second renaissance and the place to be this October 1-3 is at the SynBioBeta conference in San Francisco.

For those of you who are going, today’s show is your preview. For those of you who need a nudge, just listen to what conference founder, John Cumbers, has conjured up in this biggest and most diverse lineup yet.

For the rest of you curious folk out there who have been hearing the term synthetic biology every time you turn around in the past year, WARNING: today’s interview has so much cool stuff, please do not listen while operating a motor vehicle or running on the treadmill. If you’re pipetting or running an experiment, stop, listen, and proceed later.