Let us remember that disruption, by its very nature, can strike any industry, any company, any product or service, or any individual like silent lightening from a clear blue sky.
Here are two examples that make the point.
We have always known that the production of gem-grade diamonds has always been tightly controlled, first by the actions of a cartel and then by a loose confederation of entities who want to control the scarcity of diamonds for economic reasons. The first disruptor came on the wings of a political movement that judged that diamonds produced by countries with abysmal human rights should be called “blood diamonds” and be shunned in the marketplace.
Now, the second disruptor appears to be upon us as people now question why laboratory-produced diamonds should not prevail over those naturally mined to conserve energy and planetary resources? Not only will this disruptor be economically disruptive to entities that use diamonds as a portable store of value – somewhat like a tangible Bitcoin – or those who market diamonds to the industrial and commercial markets.
“Diamonds can now be created in a laboratory in just a few weeks. Producers of synthetic diamonds claim they are identical to the mined stones and more ethical. Lab-grown diamonds are also around a third cheaper. In an attempt to disrupt the disruptors, established diamond companies, including De Beers, are now producing their own lab-grown diamonds. But can synthetic gems ever replace the real thing?” <Source>
Notice that they are careful to use the phrase “lab grown” rather than “synthetic.”
Lab-grown diamonds are distinguishable from natural diamonds, but only if equipment is used to reveal the internal structure and surface florescence. Whether or not people care is up to usage (i.e. investments) or public relations (i.e. blood-free sustainable).
The key to understanding the threat from synthetically products is knowing the customer and the marketplace.
Without considering the ethics of drug usage and control, let us note that there are companies that are investing in the farming of marijuana and processing its components into various smokeable and edible forms. Investments in large-scale farmland, equipment, specialized enclosures, seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, etc. Investments in the production of smaller, individual-scale equipment such as hydroponic gardens, grow-lights, and other paraphernalia. But what happens when the active ingredients can be organically produced in a laboratory making the concentrated and costly resources obsolete?
“University of California, Berkeley is reporting that its synthetic biologists have engineered brewer’s yeast to produce marijuana’s main ingredients—mind-altering THC and non-psychoactive CBD—as well as novel cannabinoids not found in the plant itself. Feeding only on sugar, the yeast are an easy and cheap way to produce pure cannabinoids that today are costly to extract from the buds of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.
“For the consumer, the benefits are high-quality, low-cost CBD and THC: you get exactly what you want from yeast,” said Jay Keasling, a UC Berkeley professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of bioengineering and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “It is a safer, more environmentally friendly way to produce cannabinoids.”
“Cannabis and its extracts, including the high-inducing THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, are now legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and recreational marijuana—smoked, vaped or consumed as edibles—is a multibillion-dollar business nationwide. Medications containing THC have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce nausea after chemotherapy and to improve appetite in AIDS patients.”
“CBD, or cannabidiol, is used increasingly in cosmetics—so-called cosmeceuticals—and has been approved as a treatment for childhood epileptic seizures. It is being investigated as a therapy for numerous conditions, including anxiety, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain.” <Source>
CBD is already appearing in edibles including Jelly Beans. It reminds me of the old DuPont Chemical slogan, “"Better Living Through Chemistry."
Change is coming. There will always be a tomorrow, no matter how much you may try to ignore it. There are no guarantees in life, or promises for a bright future. Just because something bad hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere ... are you now wondering, Am I Next?