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What is Natural?
We are often asked “is what you do natural?” or “can you call your products natural?” The answer tends to be “it depends” because the term “natural” is complicated. Different people judge natural using differing criteria and the law varies by product and country, and sometimes there is no law at all. The purpose of this section is to set out a few observations worth reflecting upon.
Natural is a spectrum
There are things that are completely “natural”: a leopard in the wild, alpenrose, smallpox. Smartphones, bicycles, contact lenses are completely artificial. There are many things that use natural processes that would not exist without the intervention of man: wheat, wine and bread.
“Natural” is often used as a metaphor for good and wholesome. However, Lyme disease, malaria and Zika are natural. A bicycle is totally artificial, but is one of the most sustainable forms of transportation.
How do regulators define natural?
Every country has a different standard for “natural.” Flavours and fragrances are regulated differently from sweeteners and supplements. Regulations differ between Europe, US, Asia, etc. For example, the EU has a law defining when a food flavour can be described as “natural” (EC 1334/2008). Whereas, the FDA does not.
Natural vs. not-so-natural
With regard to what Evolva does, then:
On the natural side …
- We make things from plants (we typically use sugars from wheat or maize)
- We make things using yeast (a natural microorganism)
- We make things using fermentation (a naturally occurring process)
- The ingredients we make occur in nature (and are completely identical to the “natural” version)
On the “not-so-natural” side …
- None of what we do would happen without us working to make it happen
- We make things in metal tanks (just like brewers do)
- Our yeasts have been given the ability to make ingredients that are normally made by plants or other species
How does Evolva see it?
What we are doing is as natural as making beer or bread. Consider how you view beer and bread. Are they natural, mostly natural, or not natural at all? Send us your view.
For more insight into Evolva`s opinion on “natural” you can view here what we submitted May 2016 to the FDA in response to the agency’s public Request for Information and Comments on use of the word “Natural” for human food labeling.