Thanks to scientific discoveries and commercial efforts to harness the processes of fermentation going back to the nineteenth century, enzymes harvested from microbes have become ubiquitous in detergents and other cleaning products, as well as in food production. They are also now being adapted for an even bigger cleaning task: remediating pollution. Examining how these humble proteins and the biochemical reactions they catalyze became so indispensable reveals a little-noticed history of industrialization underlying modern everyday life.
Hannah Landecker is a professor in the Sociology Department and the Institute for Society and Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. This essay springs from her time as a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2021–22.
Hannah Landecker; Enzyme Power. Current History 1 November 2023; 122 (847): 283–288. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.2023.122.847.283
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