Counter Culture Labs is a company that stemmed from an MIT iGEM team that made synthetic cheese. Their goal is to make vegan cheese that tastes just like the real thing with the single important difference being it is not derived from a cow, but rather a lab bench. Synthetic food is starting to trend. Already, we have seen synthetic beef, which could come in handy in saving non-renewable resources that we currently use for common food products.
A valid point was raised in the synthetic cheese article about the effect on the human microbiome. Even if something is chemically the same as the food in seeks to mimic, will it interact with our microbiome the same way? If those interactions are different, how do we measure them or go about determining whether they are good or bad changes? How far away are we from inoculating our synthetic cheese with say, a “model cheese microbiome” that would still input the same food-associated biota to our bodies? Does it matter?
Synthetic biology is an interesting field, but as with all new technology (especially biotech), there are many unaccounted for interactions that researchers may or may not be create from scratch or even quantify. Hopefully, the researchers creating this synthetic cheese take the microbiome into account now and realize how important these biological interactions can be.