Palm oil is in everything we eat and is incredibly dangerous for the environment. It’s a significant contributor to emissions and deforestation in places like Indonesia. According to Fast Company, a start-up called C16 Biosciences is working on developing an oil that looks and feels like palm oil, but it’s made in a lab.

At the beginning of March 2020, the company announced $20 million in funding in its Series A round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Bill Gates is a member of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, a fund whose mission is to support technology and innovation that helps fight cliamte change.

According to Shara Ticku, cofounder and CEO of C16 Biosciences, says palm oil “is a really good, functional oil. The problem comes in the way that it’s produced. The oil palm tree can only grow within about five to 10 degrees of the equator. And when you look around the equator, most of the land that we find is actually rain forest.”

To help avoid the half a billion tons of annual emissions linked to palm oil, C16 Biosciences oil will hopefully replace palm oil in products from makeup to cookies to ice cream. C16‘s palm oil is made through a process similar to brewing beer. It uses yeast grown in steel tanks to create the oil.

“Our real mission is ending the need for deforestation that’s driven by the palm oil industry,” says Ticku.

Read more about palm oil in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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