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Ecover Is as Green as Ever?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Coming Clean Campaign page.

Ecover refutes allegations that it has been using 'synthetic biology' to make soap ingredients from algae. On the contrary, write Tom Domen & Dirk Develter, it's just old fashioned fermentation, and the company remains at the forefront of sustainability and responsible practice.

On June 16, Jim Thomas of the ETC wrote an article for The Ecologist that makes several incorrect and misleading claims about Ecover's use of algal oil as an alternative to petroleum and palm oil based ingredients.

These assertions relate to algae being produced by a process known as 'synthetic biology' that the process causes deforestation and potentially dangerous environmental release, and that better alternatives exist.

Several of these claims are factually inaccurate, others are misleading, and all of them unfairly characterise Ecover as irresponsible.

Synthetic biology

The article states that Ecover "revealed ... that it has decided to use an algal oil ... produced by ... an experimental set of techniques called synthetic biology". This statement is factually incorrect.

Synthetic biology is the process of creating DNA from scratch or inserting human-made DNA into an organism. The author himself states "Synbio is the ground-up redesign of life at the cellular level for industrial purposes". This is not what is being done.

The genetic modification process used by the supplier of our algal oil employs the natural mutation process of algae and standard industrial fermentation.

Our supplier uses microalgae strains that have been in existence longer than we have, and they work within their natural oil producing pathways using decades-old molecular biology techniques to produce algal oil.

Any allegations that we are using synthetic biology are untrue.      


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