Thursday, November 24, 2005
A recent AP article
discusses a new process developed by Voigt Labs
at UC San Francisco, in which bacteria respond to light. As the article discusses, the process is part of what is termed "synthetic biology
," efforts to move beyond standard transgenic biotech to into what Eugene Thacker has called "Biomedia
" - the incorporation of biological material into systems of computation and reproduction.
Check out the MIT Synthetic Biology Working Group's comic in Nature
Friday, November 18, 2005
Report on the Safety of Nanotech
A report in the Journal of Particle and Fibre Toxicology
presents some research into the potential human health effects of engineering nano scaled particles. Basically, the report suggests that a lot of testing will have to be done. Hopefully, before nanotech jumps ahead as biotech has.
Power Your SUV with GMOs?
J Craig Venter, one of the major players in the Human Genome Project, has started a new company named Synthetic Genomics
which plans to produce biofuels (ethenol, biodeisel) with genetically engineered microorganisms. This would apparently solve one of the major barriers to efficient biofuel production, as this C|Net article
The genetic approach to biofuels could eliminate one of the more prominent difficulties facing biomass energy, which typically involves burning plant matter or alcohol derived from plants. Namely, it takes more energy to make biofuels than the process provides. Even backers of ethanol, a mixture of gasoline and plant alcohol, have said that one needs to add in the value of other byproducts created in the ethanol process to come out ahead.
Genetic engineering proponents have long pointed to the technology's potential to solve environmental problems. But, this potential has yet to be realized, by any stretch of the imagination. Will this be any different?
The Synthetic Genomics website's claims remind me of an earlier Critical Art Ensemble project (GenTerra
) that took a critical look at the eco-friendly face of GE technology.