Just about every infant formula available on the market uses cow’s milk as its nutritional basis. This usage of cow’s milk as the main ingredient in the production of formula is what Harmony is trying to change by replacing cow’s milk with human breast milk proteins.
In the current infant formula industry, using cow’s milk as the basis of the formula is considered the standard. However, this standard of utilizing cow’s milk as the primary ingredient in formulas has proven to be problematic, not only in terms of the nutritional value it provides babies, but also in the impacts dairy farming has on the environment.
One of the major impacts of the dairy industry is the production of excessive amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG). Within the dairy industry, it was estimated that the global average emissions rate to produce milk was 1.5 kg of CO2e for every 1 kg of milk. In order to produce 1 kg of cow’s milk formula, it would take approximately 6.6 kg of raw milk (milk that hasn’t been pasteurized) (Pope 2021). As a result, the main environmental impact of cow’s milk formula is due to its use of milk as its primary ingredient, with raw milk production accounting for 82% of formula’s carbon footprint (Pope 2021). By using precision fermentation to produce human breast milk components, Harmony is removing the need for cow’s milk in formula, thus eliminating the emissions that dairy farming produces. Although precision fermentation creates some emissions, it creates 91-97% less greenhouse gases than dairy farming (Perfect Day 2021).
A greenhouse gas is any gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and re-emits heat, which keeps the atmosphere warmer than it would otherwise be, leading to global warming and climate change (Brander 2012). It’s also important to note that while GHG are naturally occurring in the Earth’s atmosphere, human activities, including dairy farming, are significantly increasing the rate of global warming and climate change. While greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and more, CO2 is the most common GHG emitted by human activities. As a result, you may frequently see the term carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) used as a shorthand expression to represent all greenhouse gasses. The term CO2e simply describes different greenhouse gases in a common unit, and for any quantity and type of greenhouse gas, CO2e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming impact (Brander 2012).
Ultimately, the reliance on cow’s milk for infant formula is truly a concern, as the accelerated rate of global warming has led to catastrophic consequences for global health (Pope 2021). At Harmony, we hope to not only produce a formula that is more nutritious and biologically similar to breast milk, but to also be a more sustainable option that can create a greener future for your baby.