Corporate Wheeling & Dealing

Oct 152014
 
Northern “Syn Bio Club” Blasted for Impeding UN Talks Progress

Synthetic Biology States vs. the Rest of the World PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA–Tensions are rising at UN talks concerning oversight of synthetic biology technology, sometimes called extreme genetic engineering. A small club of wealthy nations with powerful biotech industries, (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland, Brazil and the European Union) have been clashing with developing countries from Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean over the need for international governance frameworks for synthetic biology. The [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]

Jul 082014
 
What-Syn-a-Name?

This article originally appeared in the Guardian. Synthetic biology is attracting attention from both scientists and regulators. But there is little agreement on what it is. Can we find a road out of synthetic biology’s definitional quagmire? by Jim Thomas He was looking quite lost. An eminent scientist and UN delegate was stumbling over the meaning of a term that has been the subject of recent international debates: “synthetic biology.” Often called “extreme genetic engineering,” [More]

Jun 162014
 

(Originally published by The Ecologist) by Jim Thomas Disappointment, surprise, disbelief. I think I felt a bit of all of these when I discovered that ‘natural’ soap-maker Ecover had become the first company in the world to reveal its use of synthetic biology in the manufacture of consumer products. The Belgian multinational revealed in April that it has decided to use an algal oil. What it didn’t explain was that the algae oil was produced [More]

May 302014
 
Companies Quietly Apply Biofuel Tools to Household Products

This article originally appeared in the New York Times. By STEPHANIE STROM MAY 30, 2014 Consumer products containing ingredients made using an advanced form of engineering known as synthetic biology are beginning to show up more often on grocery and department store shelves. A liquid laundry detergent made by Ecover, a Belgian company that makes “green” household products including the Method line, contains an oil produced by algae whose genetic code was altered using synthetic [More]

May 062014
 
Synthetic Biology: Rebranding Extreme Genetic Engineering

By Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst, Centre for Food Safety This article is reposted from the Centre for Food Safety web site. Some years ago, bread companies got the word that customers wanted more fiber in their bread. Instead of making more of their bread with whole grains, a few companies actually put in wood pulp and labeled it as “fiber”. Today, in San Francisco, a group of synthetic biology companies and a representative from [More]

Oct 222013
 

Reposted from the New York Times October 20, 2013 EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Vanilla, saffron, patchouli. For centuries, spices and flavorings like these have come from exotic plants growing in remote places like the jungles of Mexico or the terraced hillsides of Madagascar. Some were highly prized along ancient trading routes like the Silk Road. Now a powerful form of genetic engineering could revolutionize the production of some of the most sought-after flavors and fragrances. Rather [More]

Oct 172013
 
Synthetic biology: An emperor with no clothes? - By Allison Domicone

Reposted from Policy Matters Journal On September 11, I had the great pleasure of attending a public conversation with one of my heroes, Dr. Vandana Shiva, at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley. Shiva is a highly respected Indian physicist and activist who has for decades been speaking truth to power with an eloquence and moral courage that I only wish more global leaders would aspire to attain. Shiva is a particularly vocal critic of [More]

May 292013
 
Mapping the Growth Of Synthetic Biology: Wilson Center Findings For 2013

View the map Download the PDF summary of findings Except from the Wilson Center TRACKING THE GROWTH OF SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: FINDINGS FOR 2013: Major Findings: The number of entities conducting research in synthetic biology increased significantly between 2009 and 2013, resulting in a total of 508 unique entities in the 2013 inventory [See footnotes1 2 3] The number of companies has come into closer parity with the number of universities. The number of companies more [More]

May 072013
 
ETC & FOE "Kickstopper" Campaign Takes Aim at SynBio Kickstarter Effort to Distribute Synthetically Engineered Seeds

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’ [More]