On a typical trip to the grocery store, you probably buy at least one product made with palm oil, which is found in everything from shampoo and detergent to pizza dough, ice cream, and instant ramen. It’s the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, with 75.7 million metric tons of production expected globally each year. And despite commitments from food companies to improve sourcing, it’s still a major driver of deforestation as palm oil plantations continue to cut and burn down tropical forests to make more room to grow oil palms. In New York City, a startup called C16 Biosciences is using bioreactors to grow an oil that’s chemically almost identical to palm oil and functions in the same way. This week, the company announced a $20 million Series A round of investment led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the fund that Bill Gates established along with other investors to support innovations that fight climate change. Each year, deforestation caused by the palm oil industry emits around half a billion tons of CO2. [Photo: courtesy C16 Biosciences] Palm oil “is a really good, functional oil,” says Shara Ticku, cofounder and CEO of C16 Biosciences. “The problem comes in […]

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