Inside the secretive, big-money race to redesign sugar

In a fascinating article in The New Yorker, Nicola Twilley dives deep in an industry dominated by multinational corporations, all of which are spending huge sums of money on research and development, in pursuit of a similar goal: reinventing sugar. Scientists have been hard at work on this for a century—making something that’s just as sweet, but not as caloric—but none of the alternatives “are quite as irresistible, let alone as versatile in the kitchen,” Twilley writes. These days, rather than finding something to replace it, the idea is to rebuild it: Hollow out the crystal and stuff it with silica, or actually tweaking the chemical structure so it becomes something more alien, like a compound on a meteorite. The problem, one scientist explains: “It would be better if our sweet receptors got more sensitive so we would eat less sugar,” they said. “But that’s going to take another couple hundred thousand years at least.”

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