May 072013

Kickstopper! – Putting a Stop to Synthetic Biology Pollution

ETC to launch counter-Kickstarter campaign to prevent release of synthetic organisms

At the end of April 2013, ETC Group learned that  three biohackers from the ultra-libertarian Singularity University in California had mounted a project on the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter. It was a plan  to carry out the worlds first environmental release of an avowedly Synthetic Biology organism – a glow-in-the dark arabidopsis plant. Shockingly the ‘Glowing Plants’ kickstarter project promised to mail up to 100 bioengineered seeds to anyone from the United States who gave them $40 online . To date over 4000 people expect to receive syn bio seeds in the post. The seeds, which they said would likely grow into ‘glowing plants’ (after all, ‘biology is complicated,’ admit the masterminds) would be the viable and reproducing products of  ‘Synthetic Biology’– A field that has never had a deliberate release into the environment before. Even more shockingly they claim that the US Government had agreed not to regulate, assess or monitor this widespread random and nation-wide release of synthetic organisms. Read more at ETC:  Kickstopper! – Putting a Stop to Synthetic Biology Pollution