The Chemical Cost of Innovation

by Jessica Jackson on Oct 27, 2020 Business 264 Views

We've talked a lot about synthetic chemicals and the harm many of them can do to human beings and the earth; after all, replacing harmful substances with our natural active silk chemicals is the reason for our existence. But it's worth seeing how ubiquitous these substances were in the first place, and why all of us are so ignorant of the chemicals that come into contact with our lives every day.

In the 1930s and 1940s, there were a lot of chemical innovations in the United States. In that era, rapid drying coatings, transparent tape and pesticides were developed, farmers were able to protect their crops, and soldiers were protected from malaria abroad. With the development of science and technology and the influx of scientific talents after World War II, the United States has suddenly become a powerful chemical industry and has the ability to apply these new discoveries to the booming consumer goods industry.

We don't blame companies that take advantage of these advances. These breakthroughs have promoted the rapid development of many industries and enabled manufacturers to change the lives of Americans with better and more affordable goods on an unprecedented scale. Synthetic chemicals allow us to wash clothes quickly and efficiently, eat frozen berries in the middle of winter, and vaccinate with sterile disposable syringes instead of doctors' reusable syringes. They've helped everything from post it notes to the space shuttle. They even gave us bubble gum. Most chemists who have given life to these things have no intention of causing harm. They started to innovate.

What the scientific community did not fully understand at that time was that chemicals in products could cause harm to human and environmental health. Even when chemists begin to question whether these substances, which are becoming indispensable to our lives, have some hidden effects, they think that unless you really swallow a chemical directly, it won't hurt you. (in fact, the first round of chemical regulation revolved around food and pesticides). Now of course we know that chemicals can enter our waterways and our bodies through the food chain, through direct contact with the skin. But the minds behind the huge chemical and consumer boom don't know that yet. What they know is that the country is in the midst of tremendous economic growth.

This growth is part of the reason why we still don't understand the chemicals in the products we use every day. Companies spend years trying to synthesize the perfect molecule, and once they find the right formula, they need to protect the job. Patents are a way to achieve this, but they are temporary and can be costly to acquire and maintain. Access to trade secrets allows companies to protect their recipes so that competitors cannot replicate them. The advantage of trade secret is that it can be kept secret forever at the lowest cost. On the downside, it means the public can't know what's in the product they're buying. At this point, even the companies that sell these products usually don't know. Once the teddy bear, pajamas or mattress leaves the factory and enters the shops, businesses and families, its trade secrets will be preserved.

Some industries are technically required to disclose their ingredients, including the chemicals in the products they produce. Skin care products are one of them, but look at your lotion: it is likely to label fragrance as a component rather than a flavour. This is because perfume is classified as a commercial secret according to the FDA's Fair Packaging and Labelling Act. Therefore, "fragrance" can refer to anything from natural oils to synthetic chemicals, such as phthalates, known endocrine disruptors that can damage reproductive system development.

In "natural evolution", our mission as a green chemical company is to promote the health of mankind and the earth. We do this through an activated silk chemistry platform, which is based on natural silk protein molecules. Our scientists deploy this molecule in dozens of unique ways to create sustainable, non-toxic, high-performance chemicals for a range of industries, from clothing to personal care and household products. For us, innovation means greater well-being for all, starting with the replacement of undisclosed toxic chemicals hidden in products we love and depend on.

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