News Releases

Extreme Genetic Engineering: An Introduction to Synthetic Biology

ETC Group Releases Report on Synthetic Biology

A new report by the ETC Group concludes that the social, environmental and bio-weapons threats of synthetic biology surpass the possible dangers and abuses of biotech. The full text of the 70-page report, Extreme Genetic Engineering: An Introduction to Synthetic Biology, is available for downloading free-of-charge on the ETC Group website.

"Genetic engineering is passé," said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group. "Today, scientists aren't just mapping genomes and manipulating genes, they're building life from scratch - and they're doing it in the absence of societal debate and regulatory oversight," said Mooney.

ETC Group testifies at US Food & Drug Administration's public meeting on nanotechnology

“100 Years after The Pure Food & Drug Act: FDA’s current regulatory framework inadequate to address new nano-scale technologies”

Presentation of Kathy Jo Wetter on behalf of ETC Group

Thank you for the opportunity to present the views of ETC Group. We are an international civil society organization based in Canada. Our work focuses on the social and economic impacts of emerging technologies and their implications, especially for marginalized communities. I’m based in ETC Group’s North Carolina office.

En Estados Unidos, abierta irresponsabilidad para regular la nanotecnologia

El verano pasado (2006), la Agencia de protección al ambiente de Estados Unidos dio luz verde a 15 productos químicos nanoescalares, aunque anteriormente había sancionado el uso de nanopartículas para limpiar un tiradero de plaguicidas y había prometido consultar con el público la regulación de los productos.

Monsanto Acquires Delta & Pine Land and Terminator

In a quest to expand its corporate seed empire - Monsanto, the world's largest seed enterprise - announced yesterday that it will buy the world's leading cotton seed company, Mississippi-based (USA) Delta & Pine Land, for US$1.5 billion. Monsanto and Delta & Pine Land (D&PL) together account for over 57% of the US cotton seed market. With D&PL subsidiaries in 13 countries - including major markets such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Pakistan - the takeover means that Monsanto will command a dominant position in one of the world's most important agricultural trade commodities and that millions of cotton farmers will be under increased pressure to accept genetically modified (GM) cottonseed.

Groups in Latin America and Africa call for rejection of World Bank-GEF biosafety projects

Two World Bank projects, with funding from the GEF (Global Environmental Facility), propose to introduce genetically modified crops such as maize, potatoes, cassava, rice and cotton into five Latin American and four African countries that are centers of origin or diversity for these and other major food crops. Civil society organizations warn that DNA contamination from genetically modified crops poses an unacceptable risk to stable crops that are the basis of peasant economies in these regions. The multi-million dollar projects are being promoted under the guise of scientific biosafety research, but civil society organizations on both continents are calling for their immediate rejection because they threaten food sovereignty and farmer-controlled seed systems.

Backgrounder: Open Letter on Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology - Global Societal Review Urgent!

Synthetic biology (the attempt to create artificial living organisms) should be self-regulated say scientists at Berkeley assembly. Civil Society organizations say "No!"

"If biologists are indeed on the threshold of synthesizing new life forms, the scope for abuse or inadvertent disaster could be huge." Nature, October 2004

Scientists working at the interface of engineering and biology - in the new field of "synthetic biology" - worry that public distrust of biotechnology could impede their research or draw attention to regulatory chasms. Synthetic biologists are trying to design and construct artificial living systems to perform specific tasks, such as producing pharmaceutical compounds or energy. In October 2004, the journal Nature warned, "if biologists are indeed on the threshold of synthesizing new life forms, the scope for abuse or inadvertent disaster could be huge." An editorial in that same issue suggested that there may be a need for an "Asilomar"-type conference on synthetic biology. In light of these concerns, scientists gathering at "Synthetic Biology 2.0" (May 20-22, 2006) at the University of California-Berkeley hope to make "significant progress" toward a "code of ethics and standards." Their actions are intended to project the message that the synthetic biologists are being pro-active and capable of governing themselves as a "community." In their view, self-governance is the best way forward to safely reap the benefits (both societal and financial) of synthetic biology. Civil Society organizations disagree.

Global Coalition Sounds the Alarm on Synthetic Biology

Demands Oversight and Societal Debate

A coalition of thirty-eight international organizations including scientists, environmentalists, trade unionists, biowarfare experts and social justice advocates called for inclusive public debate, regulation and oversight of the rapidly advancing field of synthetic biology - the construction of unique and novel artificial life forms to perform specific tasks. Synthetic biologists are meeting this weekend in Berkeley, California where they plan to announce a voluntary code of self-regulation for their work (1). The organizations signing the Open Letter are calling on synthetic biologists to abandon their proposals for self-governance and to engage in an inclusive process of global societal debate on the implications of their work (see attached Open Letter).

Nanotech Product Recall Underscores Need for Nanotech Moratorium: Is the Magic Gone?

ETC Group renewed its 2003 call for a global moratorium on nanotech lab research and a recall of consumer products containing engineered nanoparticles. There is particular urgency for those products that are ingested, applied to the body or released in the environment. The need for action is underscored following the decision by German authorities to recall a nanotech bathroom cleaner, "Magic Nano" - purportedly a product of nanotechnology. At least 77 people reported respiratory problems in late March after using the product. Six people were hospitalized but later released when their respiratory distress faded. The company marketing "Magic Nano" is Kleinmann GmbH, a German subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works (a US Fortune 200 corporation with 650 subsidiaries in 45 countries and 49,000 employees). Kleinmann sells "Magic Nano" in a spray pump and as an aerosol spray. The recall only applies to the aerosol spray. There is no information available regarding the nano chemical compound used, nor whether the problem lies with the nanoparticles or with the interaction between the particles and the conventional aerosol propellant.

Pages

Subscribe to News Releases