How biotech is addressing transparency in the ingredient supply chain

With the surge of new manufacturing technologies, it’s critical for everyone in the industry to understand the evolving biotech landscape. In this session, expert panelists discuss the complex issues of trust, transparency and purity in the ingredient supply chain when it comes to sourcing, manufacturing and communicating with consumers.

3 Min Read
How biotech is addressing transparency in the ingredient supply chain

“What we should really be thinking about in transparency is illuminating the image with light from behind—which is the source and origin of all of the products that we use. It should be the face of the farmer, and grower and the original producer or supplier.”

—Loren Israelsen, United Natural Products Alliance

Part 1: Introduction to concepts, guiding principles and lexicon

Highlights from Tim Avila, Systems Bioscience Inc.:

  • Natural and technology can absolutely co-exist. We need to look at the future as a lifestyle collective and not just an industry. 

  • Addressing issues of "TechShock" through effective communication.

  • The guiding principles of equity, trust and sustainability in the ingredient supply chain. 

  • Overview of biotech lexicon in order to have a clear understanding of the discussion. 

  • The concept of "natural" and deciphering the criteria of what makes an ingredient "natural."



Part 2: Defining trust and transparency

Highlights from Loren Israelsen, president, United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA):

  • Questions of transparency in the way we project information and the importance of communicating with directness. 

  • It's the nature of language that we use in everyday life and in business that creates inequity. There's a deficit when it comes to language between agriculture and tech that is dividing the industry. We need to simplify the way we speak across the industry in order to create more equity and access.

  • The definition of transparency and why it's important to understand. 

  • How we define trust in our industry? Dealing with the complexities of trust and transparency when it comes to consumer-facing information. 



Part 3: Suppliers are the answer

Highlights from Shaheen Majeed, president, Sabinsa:

  • Major factors facing Sabinsa and all suppliers in the industry: How do we source and how do we supply? 

  • Adulterants in the supply chain and what to look for when vetting suppliers.

  • The problems with synthetically/artificially manufactured ingredient companies that claim to be "natural."

  • Suppliers are the answer to creating fairness and transparency in the entire industry by providing research and education for retailers, marketers and manufacturing companies. 

  • Three critical questions to ask when identifying what an ingredient supplier is trying to sell you. 



Part 4: Innovations in microorganism fermentation production

Highlights from Andressa Lacerda, PhD, Noblegen:

  • Noblegen is an advanced ingredients company that produces unique ingredients using microorganism fermentation. 

  • Description of Noblegen's process and how its "trains" microorganisms to perform in diverse ways. 

  • Value proposition: Noblegen offers significant benefits throughout the food value chain by providing improved functionality, higher nutritional value, labeling benefits, custom formulations and sustainability. 

  • Addressing cost equity in parts of the world that need nutrition the most. 

  • How do we simplify scientific language to make it more accessible for people to understand? 



Part 5: Q&A: Noblegen's process, vetting suppliers and the environmental impacts of synthetic biology


  • How Noblegen’s fermentation process upstreams resources from other industries to ensure that they are a zero-waste facility.

  • How Noblegen achieves the same quality and parameters without utilizing genetically modified ingredients.

  • The regulatory standards in place that brands need to follow in order to identify synthetic ingredients that are illegal or unsafe.

  • The negative environmental impacts of syn bio including farmer livelihood and studies that show adverse health impacts.



Part 6: Q&A: Regulatory standards around syn bio, communicating to retail customers 


  • The challenges of generation and execution of standards around synthetic biology.

  • Regulatory issues in various countries are vastly different and the space is evolving quickly. What regulatory standards are in place and why it’s so important to demand transparency from suppliers.

  • Why Noblegen is seeking third-party non-gmo and organic certification.

  • How Noblegen's omega-3 compares to omega-3 from fish oil. Noblegen creates chemically substantial equivalents to other sources of ingredients.

  • Retailers can ensure transparency with consumers by discussing how ingredients are manufactured.


This session—Trust, Transparency and Purity: Exploring Complex Biotech Issues in the Food and Nutrition Supply Chain—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

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