Why La Tigresa del Oriente is the future of Biotech.
First, I need to explain to most of you, readers, who is La Tigresa del Oriente, or, The Eastern Tiger Lady. She is a Peruvian singer, a YouTube celebrity, by now in her 70s. She became famous with a music video that turned viral. 10 years after her debut, she has millions of views of her videos, recorded several albums and even has had naked pictures taken and appeared in our local equivalents of Playboy, Revista SoHo. Impressive for a grandma, right? But that’s the world we live in.
30 or 40 years ago, it was very difficult, almost impossible, for a new band or an emerging artist to record a video and make themselves known without the collaboration of the music industry. The equipment that you needed to record a song and the access to the people controlling the radio playlists was hard to get. It was very expensive to buy the tools that you needed for professional recording, and making a video, nearly impossible. This changed when cellphones with cameras and sound recording were released, we were finally able to record our creations. Later, when YouTube was released, anyone could upload his or her video and make it available to the whole web. What used to be thousands of dollars and needed very specific social connections , now can be made with a cellphone and an Internet connection. The creation of content has been democratized.
I am hopeful that the same will happen with biotechnology. That in a few decades, or earlier, we’ll have simpler and cheaper methods to change organisms, to develop and improve better crops and fruits, to create enhanced foods and new combinations that don’t exist yet. To broaden the things that we eat and how we dress. I hope that in a a future not so far, the regulatory framework is changed , so it is accessible to small companies, not only to Monsanto-like giants, that their monopoly of market access ends, just like it ended for the record companies.
We are already heading in that direction. The development of new genetic modification systems that are easier to use, that might not subjected to current regulation, as they do not have genes of other species, could decrease the costs and the barriers to market access. My old company, LavaAmp, aimed to decrease the cost, speed and complexity of a common lab technique. Step by step, we are going to a world in which biology will make possible tastier food, more sustainable and nutritious. Where Monsanto is just another big company, competing with a lot small ones. We’ll see a New and Brighter Day for humanity!