Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology brings together engineering and the life sciences in order to design and construct new biological parts, devices and systems that do not currently exist in the natural world or to tweak the designs of existing biological systems. Synthetic biologists, engaged in a kind of extreme genetic engineering, hope to construct designer organisms that perform specific tasks such as producing biofuels or other high-value compounds.

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While some ETC Group staff were in Caracas strategizing with partners to strengthen the global opposition to Terminator, others of us were subjected to the slog of the CBD meeting in Granada. And one of us was spending a few days with unlimited access to free chocolate at Swiss Re's opulent Centre for Global Dialogue near Zurich.

In a shot across the bows of geoengineering companies, the London Convention (the International Maritime Organization body that oversees dumping of wastes at sea) today unanimously endorsed a scientific statement of concern on ocean fertilisation and declared its intention to develop international regulations to oversee the controversial activities. It further advised states that such large-scale schemes are “currently not justified.”