‘Synthetic biology’ – how could it be used in farming?

By Tim Hammerich
20th September 2019
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Dr. John Cumbers is the founder of SynBioBeta, a network for innovators, investors, entrepreneurs, and biological engineers. Their focus is introducing synthetic biology innovations to improve the human condition and make life more sustainable.

John is a recipient of multiple grants and awards from NASA and the National Academy of Sciences for his work in the industry. He received his Ph.D. in molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry from Brown University, his MSc in bioinformatics from Edinburgh University, and a degree in computer science with information engineering from the University of Hull.

John joins me today to discuss the potential of synthetic biology if applied to today’s agriculture sector. He explains what SynBioBeta stands for, what they want to accomplish, and the innovations we can look forward to as consumers.

He shares his thoughts on lab-grown meat, anti-GMO views, and the future of Mars exploration. John also discusses what we can look forward to from their Beta Space Event.

“Synthetic biology is not actually what you do – it’s the way you do it.” – Dr. John Cumbers

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • What SynBioBeta is and what they aim to achieve with synthetic biology.
  • The innovations synthetic biology has made possible.
  • His thoughts on plant-based meats and cell-based meats.
  • How Rural America can benefit from what he calls the “Bio Belt.”
  • What needs to happen to pursue a “Bio Belt” hub program.
  • How the Anti-GMO community reacts to their technological innovations.
  • Why everybody should have a bio strategy.
  • What extremophiles are and how they can help produce food in space.
  • His opinion on the future of Mars exploration.
  • What people can look forward to the Beta Space event.

 Resources mentioned:

Connect with Dr. John Cumbers:


This episode is sponsored by Indigo Ag


What if surviving a drought began with just a microbe? What could accessing 10,000 buyers do for your agriculture business? Indigo Ag helps farmers improve profitability, environmental sustainability, and consumer health by working with growers to reimagine every aspect of the agriculture industry – from soil to sale.

To learn more about Indigo Ag and their mission to improve the environment and agriculture industry, visit IndigoAg.com/Questions

Indigo. From questions… we grow.