Health & Safety

Dec 282015
 
Re-engineering life? The dangers of 'next generation' biofuels

by Almuth Ernsting, Ecologist The biofuels of the future will depend on microbes, writes Almuth Ernsting: algae to produce the biomass, and fungi or bacteria to break cellulose down into useful molecules. Just one problem: wild strains aren’t up to the job. So scientists are trying to genetically engineer supercharged ‘synthetic biology’ variants – which will inevitably enter the environment. What could possibly go wrong? In the UK, the use of genetically engineered (GE) microbes [More]

Jun 042015
 
Creators defend vanilla flavour made using synthetic biology

Evolva say its synbio vanillin is a sustainable alternative to the synthetic variety, but critics say the technology isn’t palatable for the environment by Rich McEachran (Guardian) On its journey from the fields in Madagascar to your ice cream, sponge cake and chocolate, the vanilla plant is subjected to an intense process: it’s cured, dried and sometimes even oxidised. Given the lengthy nature of vanilla production – it can take several weeks to go from [More]

Jan 152015
 
Bad-Boy Scientism

by Pete Shanks (Originally appeared on HuffPo.) Austen Heinz of Cambrian Genomics has been trolling hard lately, as blogger Josh Cunningham notes. That is, he’s been spouting provocative opinions to get attention. And it seems to be working, from his point of view. Not only was Heinz involved in the vagina bio-hack nonsense, but he told the Wall Street Journal last June, “I can’t believe that after 10 or 20 years, people will not design their children digitally.” And he doubled down in [More]

Oct 292014
 
What is Synthetic Biology?

Engineering Life and Livelihoods This short film explains the basics on synbio and its attempts to engineer life. You can also download and read the comic book that accompanies it here. Full script: So here’s a thought experiment. What if living things were actually machines? The sort of machines that you could take apart, reprogram, and rewire to do something entirely new? If so, plants could just be rewired to glow like light bulbs or [More]

Aug 292014
 
GMOs 2.0: Synthetic Biology – Impacts on Our Food, Farmers, Consumer Products & Health

A new generation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is quietly entering our food supply, cosmetics and household products.  What is Synthetic Biology and what are the real costs to our food, ecosystem and farmers locally and around the world? Where: Mill Valley Community Center, Cascade Room.  180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley. When: Oct. 9, 2014; 7 – 9 pm. When: Free event. Donations appreciated at the door. RSVP: Click here to RSVP   Join us [More]

Jul 172014
 

[This article was originally published in The Ecologist.] Following The Ecologist’s revelation about Ecover’s use of synthetic biology to make laundry detergent, the company has put its trials on hold, writes Jim Thomas. But to regain public trust, the company must re-engage honestly with its critics, and its customers. A month ago, The Ecologist revealed that ‘eco-friendly’ soap maker Ecover was using an algae oil produced using synthetic biology (Syn Bio), sometimes called ‘extreme genetic engineering’. And now tens [More]

Jun 172014
 

The following is a response to 7 Busted Myths About Solazyme’s Renewable Oils, an article which purports to debunk the claims of groups campaigning against use of synthetic biology in consumer products. Maxx, Your transparency about your financial interest in the outcome of this debate is appreciated. However, your “debunking” either misses the point or doesn’t address it. 1. Is Syn Bio regulated? Poorly if at all. You debunked your own debunking pretty well here. [More]