Tag Archives: biotech

What do you think? Is SynBio the next big scary thing?

The Sins of Syn Bio

How synthetic biology will bring us cheaper plastics by ruining the poorest nations on Earth.

By Jim ThomasPosted Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, at 10:00 AM ET

This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. A Future Tense conference on whether governments can keep pace will scientific advances will be held at Google D.C.’s headquarters on Feb. 3-4. (For more information and to sign up for the event, please visit the NAF Web site.)

An aerial view of rainforest. Here’s a grim prediction to chew on. This biotech craze dubbed “synthetic biology“—where hipster geeks design quirky life-forms: That technology is going to wind up costing lives—likely a lot of them. I’m not suggesting a direct kill by rogue viruses. These will be economic deaths. The dead will not be noteworthy: farmers, pastoralists, and forest dwellers who live in poor nations that depend on plant commodities. Here’s a grim prediction to chew on. This biotech craze dubbed “synthetic biology“—where hipster geeks design quirky life-forms: That technology is going to wind up costing lives—likely a lot of them. I’m not suggesting a direct kill by rogue viruses. These will be economic deaths. The dead will not be noteworthy: farmers, pastoralists, and forest dwellers who live in poor nations that depend on plant commodities.

Syn bio is feted as the next big thing, but we should be clear-eyed about what makes syn bio such a big deal and about whom it will harm. Its advocates predict that synthetic bio will lead to the “New Bioeconomy,” in which we harness biology to perform tasks now accomplished by manufacturing. Read more.