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Bioethics Archives - SynBioWatch


Oct 202016
Gene Editing and Seed Stealing

by Chee Yoke Ling and Edward Hammond (Project Syndicate) AUSTIN, TEXAS – Four hundred years ago, John Rolfe used tobacco seeds pilfered from the West Indies to develop Virginia’s first profitable export, undermining the tobacco trade of Spain’s Caribbean colonies. More than 200 years later, another Briton, Henry Wickham, took seeds for a rubber-bearing tree from Brazil to Asia – via that great colonialist institution, London’s Royal Botanic Gardens – thereby setting the stage for [More]

Aug 192016
In the fight for our genes, could we lose what makes us human?

by Ziyaad Bhorat (Open Democracy) There’s more to human beings than biology and physiology—and it shouldn’t be for sale. In the last 70 years we’ve come a long way towards unraveling the building blocks of human life. The human genome has been identified, sequenced, mapped, decoded, and interfered with. We’ve used this knowledge to clone Dolly the sheep, discover breast cancer-causing genes and create stem cells from our own skin. And now we stand on [More]

Aug 032016
The GMO Debate: One Student’s Experience of Pro-GMO Propaganda at Cornell University

Robert Schooler (Independent Science News) My name is Robert, and I am a Cornell University undergraduate student. However, I’m not sure if I want to be one any more. Allow me to explain. Cornell, as an institution, appears to be complicit in a shocking amount of ecologically destructive, academically unethical, and scientifically deceitful behavior. Perhaps the most potent example is Cornell’s deep ties to industrial GMO agriculture, and the affiliated corporations such as Monsanto. I’d [More]

Jun 092016
Permanently changing a species: What could go wrong?

by Dana Perls, Food and Technology campaigner (Friends of the Earth US) No commercial or environmental release of gene drives, says Friends of the Earth The National Academies of Sciences released a new report today, which calls for robust safety assessments for “gene drive modified organisms.” The NAS says the controversial new genetic engineering technology is not ready for release into the environment. These genetic engineering technologies under development go far beyond genetic engineering as [More]

Jun 092016
Stop The Gene Bomb! ETC Group Comment on NAS Report on Gene Drives

The National Academy of Sciences is releasing a report about “gene drives”, which are attempts to cause entire populations to inherit certain traits, such as reducing reproductive capacity, and which can cause species crashes, or even extinction. ETC Group have countered with this news release on the topic: 8th June 2016 · First study on gene drive governance avoids the explosive issues: Militarization, Commercialization, Food Security. · ETC Group urges that gene drive patents and [More]

Apr 042016
Craig Venter Lays an Easter Egg

Six Years in the Making, “Synthia” is Resurrected Synthetic Biology, according to its proponents, is moving at five times the pace of Moore’s law – basically doubling its capabilities and halving its costs every four months. Except that brash billionaire Craig Venter, often dubbed Bioscience’s Bad Boy, is no Gordon Moore.  Venter has just announced that his team has produced Synthia 3.0 – the simplest human-made and self-replicating lifeform ever. Synthia 1.0 was announced – [More]

Feb 172016
'Rogue scientists' could exploit gene editing technology - or are they already?

An article in The Guardian (copied below) describes how a senior geneticist and a bioethicist is in agreement with a US security chief that gene-editing presents a serious risk to national security, equivalent to North Korea’s WMDs. Whilst the focus is on accidentally (or deliberately) releasing viruses, or the inevitability of “designer babies”, the researchers and intelligence staff interviewed in the article agree that the unregulated nature of the industry currently, and the fact that [More]

Jun 302015
"Jurassic World" and the Dinosaurs at the USDA

by Rachel Smolker, Truthout The new movie Jurassic World offers more than a few lessons relevant to the state of our world. There is the obvious point about scientists bringing back to life genetically engineered dinosaurs with no real concern for the havoc they may wreak. Then there is the very clear link to real-world “de-extinction” scientists who seriously aim to bring back mastodons and passenger pigeons, while others are finding ever more potent means [More]

Apr 172015
Video: Sacred vs Synthetic: Competing Visions for Life on Earth

Synthetic biology – genetic engineering to create and control life – could radically impact our food systems, our environment, and our relationship with nature. What is “synbio” and how will it undermine traditional knowledge, livelihoods and society? What follows is a conversation about the false promise of synbio and the real solutions right here in our own communities. Featuring: Joanna Macy, PhD, Eco-philosopher Carla Perez, Movement Generation and Healing Clinic Collective Doria Robinson, Urban Tilth Scott [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]