Wednesday, February 28, 2007

BP Biofuel research at UC Berkeley and UIUC

Oil giant BP has announced a $500M USD biofuel research program with the University of California Berkeley, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
This is being opposed by some folks at Berkeley (see why), but hasn't garnered much attention at my campus (U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), where the school is planning to offer up 340 acres of farmland on its Urbana campus to the project (source).

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Bioteknica: LiveLifeLab

I recently participated in a series of conversations for an issue of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac, one of which included artist Jennifer Willet. Willet is part of the Bioteknica collective (along with Shawn Bailey, which has been investigating the cultural significance of transgenics since 2004 through various participatory forms. Below is an announcement for their most recent project at Concordia University's FOFA Gallery.

Montréal, February 22, 2007 – BIOTEKNICA, an artist collective founded by Shawn Bailey and Jennifer Willet, began as an art project that projected its viewers into a future where designer organisms are generated on demand. Since 2004 BIOTEKNICA moved from the virtual laboratory into real biological science labs, growing organisms modeled on the Teratoma, an unusual cancerous growth containing multiple tissues like hair, skin, and nervous systems. BIOTEKNICA both embraces and critiques biotechnology, considering the contradictions and deep underlying complexities that these technologies offer the future of humanity. BIOTEKNICA’s most recent project, LiveLifeLab is a propositional performance and installation, taking place at Concordia University’s FOFA Gallery (ground floor, room 1-715, 1515 Ste. Catherine St. W.) February 27 until March 23, 2007.  A vernissage will be held Tuesday, March 13, 5:30 to 7:30.


BIOTEKNICA: LiveLifeLab is a new installation and performance that reflects BIOTEKNICA research and production to date.  The exhibition comprises objects the artists have prototyped, video and digital print documentation, an art performance site, and a tissue-engineering laboratory.  In the context of LiveLifeLab, Bailey and Willet will conduct an experiment/art action in which they construct a functional tissue culture lab in the gallery, and continue their research into creating new living art forms for the duration of the installation. This work results from ongoing questions arising for artists working with specialized scientific protocols and confronts the problems of access, accountability, and specialization that typically inhibit non-specialist engagement in and understanding of the sciences.

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posted by ryan griffis  # 1:26 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cotton and the Hegemony of Monsanto

A recent article (Monsanto Merger Sows Fears over Skewed Seed Market - The NewStandard) discusses the pending merger between Monsanto, the world's largest seed corporation, and Delta and Pine Land, one of the largest US cotton seed companies. From the article:

"The US cotton-seed market is already highly concentrated. According toan analysis of industry and government agricultural data by the Centerfor Food Safety and the International Center for Technology Assessment, nearly 90 percent of US cotton acreage is planted with genetically engineered cotton-seed varieties, nearly all containing traitsdeveloped by Monsanto."

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Protecting Workers from Genetic Discrimination"

US House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on genetic discrimination on January 30. Available at the linked site is a webcast of the opening statement and the testimony of called witnesses, including Congressmembers Louise Slaughter (NY) and Judy Biggart (Illinois).

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posted by ryan griffis  # 8:41 AM 0 comments links to this post

GMO Rice Globally Rejected

American Chronicle: Bayer, global pusher of genetically engineered rice must admit defeat, says Greenpeace

A Greenpeace report titled "Rice Industry in Crisis" includes a statement from the world's largest rice processor (Ebro Puleva) that it will no longer buy US rice, following in the wake of a major rice contamination incident in 2006.

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posted by ryan griffis  # 8:35 AM 0 comments links to this post

The Political Economy of Biofuels and Ethanol

A post from Greaterdemocracy.org about the subsidies going to corn-based ethanol production despite its lesser efficiency, compared to other forms like grass pellets.

Of course, there is also the link to GMO corn that is being engineered specifically for this purpose.


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posted by ryan griffis  # 8:29 AM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Geoengineering?

Ok, so this isn't specifically on topic (i.e. genetics, genomics, etc), but the positioning of biotech and nanotech in ventures like "synthetic genomics" as a panacea for climate change, in the form of engineered corn and other plants for the purpose of fuels has been very visible lately.
This report from the ETC group (pdf) may scare some people even more. Here's a quick taste of what the report is about:
"On the day before the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounds its loudest alarm yet, ETC Group warns that some OECD states, led by the United States, are betting on a pie-in-the-sky techno-fix to address climate change. "Geoengineering" refers to the intentional, large-scale manipulation of the environment to bring about environmental change. With no hope for Kyoto, little political will to ask industry or voters to change lifestyles and a growing recognition that carbon trading is a farce, some governments are concluding that massive earth restructuring is the only way out. The Guardian reported earlier this week that the US government is lobbying the IPCC to promote geoengineering activities, such as deliberately polluting the stratosphere to deflect sunlight and lower temperatures."

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