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Emerging research Archives - SynBioWatch

Emerging research

Oct 032016
Genetically modifying a plant is far from harmless

by Eric Meunier (Inf’OGM) Several new techniques of genetic modification (also called NBT) are currently being discussed worldwide to decide whether to define products obtained from them as GMOs and to regulate them as such, or not. Following a parliamentary hearing in France [1] in April 2016, Inf’OGM tries to figure out some of the potential risks linked to the use of any technique of genetic modification on a plant cells culture. Techniques of genetic modification, [More]

Aug 082016
Cashing in on Cellulosic Ethanol: Subsidy Loophole Set to Rescue Corn Biofuel Profits

by Almuth Ernsting (Independent Science News) Subsidies intended for next-generation cellulosic ethanol production are to be applied to a trivial improvement to corn ethanol refining technologies. Since cellulosic ethanol qualifies for much higher subsidies, this will significantly increase corn refinery profits and boost the demand for corn but will do nothing to combat climate change or promote energy independence. This is all thanks to an EPA policy to boost the previously (almost) non-existing cellulosic biofuel [More]

Jun 102016
The National Academies’ Gene Drive study has ignored important and obvious issues

by Jim Thomas (The Guardian): ‘Gene drives’ seem to be the ultimate high-leverage technology. Yesterday’s report from the US National Academies begun the job of describing what is at stake, but it missed some important questions. If there is a prize for the fastest emerging tech controversy of the century the ‘gene drive’ may have just won it. In under eighteen months the sci-fi concept of a ‘mutagenic chain reaction’ that can drive a genetic [More]

Apr 262016
God’s Red Pencil? CRISPR and The Three Myths of Precise Genome Editing

by Jonathan Latham, PhD (Independent Science News) For the benefit of those parts of the world where public acceptance of biotechnology is incomplete, a public relations blitz is at full tilt. It concerns an emerging set of methods for altering the DNA of living organisms. “Easy DNA Editing Will Remake the World. Buckle Up“; “We Have the Technology to Destroy All Zika Mosquitoes“; and “CRISPR: gene editing is just the beginning”. (CRISPR is short for [More]

Apr 222016
Precautionary approach to synthetic  biology needs to be translated into  effective regulation

by Almuth Ernsting ([square brackets]) The Ad-hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Synthetic Biology [1] reaffirmed the need to observe the precautionary approach in relation to synthetic biology. Its report lists 15 potential adverse impacts of synthetic biology and emphasises the need for comprehensive case-by-case risk assessments. Disappointingly, no agreement could be reached as to “whether or not current methodologies to address the environmental impacts of the components and products of synthetic biology are adequate [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]

Jan 152016
GM 2.0? 'Gene-editing' produces GMOs that must be regulated as GMOs

This is an important article about the battle to ensure that gene-editing is treated under GM regulations in the EU. It’s relevant to synbio as many of the new “breeding techniques” under consideration by the EU – such as the genome editing described in the article below – are increasingly seen as common practices within the synthetic biology field, and contribute towards the establishment of a broader bioeconomy. by Janet Cotter & Ricarda Steinbrecher (Ecologist) [More]

May 082014

By ANDREW POLLACK Originally posted by the New York Times on May 7, 2014. Scientists reported Wednesday that they had taken a significant step toward altering the fundamental alphabet of life — creating for the first time an organism with DNA containing artificial genetic code. The accomplishment might eventually lead to organisms that can make medicines or industrial products that cells with only the natural genetic code cannot.. The scientists behind the work at the [More]

Apr 092013

By Pete Shanks

There’s a buzz now around bringing species back from the dead. There’s even a spiffy new name for it: “de-extinction.” To some people, it sounds cute and cool and seems to be a sort of compensation for the human complicity in driving species out of existence in the first place. To others, it’s a business opportunity. Environmentalists should not be fooled by the flim-flam and should be very wary of the implications of this campaign.

Apr 082013
UK Guardian: Synthetic Biology Advocates Woo Conservationists with Bio-Engineering "Solutions" to Species Extinction

Reposted from the Guardian: Call for DNA biologists to join fight against deadly new threats to wildlife Research into creation of a new generation of synthetic organisms could be the way to save some of the natural world’s most endangered species, according to conservationists The Panamanian golden frog has been pushed close to extinction by fungal disease. Photograph: Darren Green Photography / Alamy/Alamy Robin McKie, science editor Conservation workers will this week seek help from [More]