9 October 2015

Will synbio save us all from scarcity?

The Blog


Synbio has been the focus of an op-ed at h+ Magazine, where it is praised as potentially carrying the salvation of humankind.


Synbio is a shorthand term for synthetic biology, which refers to a field of biology involved in sequencing synthetic genomes to create new species from scratch. It was largely developed by a team under J. Craig Venter, who also made the achievements of the Human Genome Project.

From the Harry J. Bentham-authored article:
Like our bodies, our planet is no longer a sufficient vehicle for human dreams and aspirations. The biology of the planet is too inefficient to support the current growth of the human population. We face the prospect of eventually perishing as a species if we cannot repair our species’ oft-omitted disagreements with nature over issues of sustainability, congenital illness and our refusal to submit to the cruelties of natural selection from which we evolved. 
Once we recognize that the current species are flawed, we will see that only by designing and introducing new species can suffering, poverty and the depletion of natural resources be stopped. Once we look at this option, we find already a perfect and ultimately moral solution to the threats of climate change, disease, overpopulation and the terrible scarcity giving rise to endless injustice and retaliatory terrorism. 
The perfect solution could only be brought to the world by a heroic worker in the fields of biotech and synthetic biology. Indeed, this revolution may already be possible today, but fear is sadly holding back the one who could make it happen.
The article blamed a culture driven by profit at the expense of human needs, for preventing solutions to scarcity, disease, suffering and resource-driven wars. In the conclusion, the piece warned that if scientists do not break free from the immense corporate and industrial pressures not to share their inventions more quickly with the global poor, "we will talk about direct action to break free the scientific gifts they refused to share".


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