Podcast: Jim Thomas, Becky McClain and Edward Hammon discuss synthetic biology on Before You Leap

By the Center for Environmental Health

Originally published by Before You Leap,
the podcast of the Center for Environmental Health.

We hear from Jim Thomas on the story of how the birth of modern synthetic chemistry began with the color purple and what this means for dealing with the risky new technology of synthetic biology. Also, Becky McClain, the first biological lab scientist to be injured on the job by a genetically engineered (GMO) virus on her lawsuit against the world’s biggest drug company, and Edward Hammond on the failed oversight of bio-research labs.

Hear it now! (or download here)

You can see Jim Thomas’ 2008 talk on synthetic biology and the history of synthetic chemistry, his part of a debate sponsored by the Long Now Foundation. Check out the ETC Group for much more on synthetic biology and other risky technologies (including Jim’s recent debate about a synthetic anti-malaria drug, artemisinin and a “Kickstopper” campaign to put a stop to some very reckless GMO shenanigans).

Becky McClain’s victory against Pfizer was featured in the New York Times and many media outlets. An appeals court upheld a $2.3 million jury award to her in December 2012. For more background on her story, see interviews with Becky from the Council for Responsible Genetics and Workers Comp Hub. Also see the talk Becky gave on accepting the 2010 Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage.

You can find more on Edward Hammond’s research on IBCs and get more information at Prickly Research (including more on the gay bomb, GMO smallpox, and how Edward got kicked out of a UN chemical weapons treaty meeting) .  Edward’s work on lab safety was also profiled in Science magazine. You can also see the video of Nobel-prize winner Richard Roberts questioning Robert Webster at the May 2012 National Academy of Sciences meeting. Also see a recent article in Nature highlighting the safety and ethical issues around creating more infectious organisms in the lab.

Be sure to read Simon Garfield’s book, Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World. It’s fascinating!

Before You Leap is the podcast of the Center for Environmental Health, the leading nonprofit working to protect people from toxic chemicals and to promote business products and practices that are safe for public health and the environment.

Hosts Charles Margulis, Christina Medina Martin, and PJ Johnson are staff at CEH and bring you the show from the CEH world headquarters in Oakland, CA.