Using Conservation for Synthetic Biology.

Using Conservation for Synthetic Biology.

Frankly it was all a set up. In the delightfully romantic setting of an old Cambridge college in springtime, complete with free drinks and delicious food, the organizers of last weeks 'Future of Nature' Conference smiled on conspiratorially as their contrivances to introduce two awkward strangers played out over 3 days.

The strangers in this case were not so much boy-meets-girl as naturalist-meets-geek and what they purportedly had in common was biology. The Future of Nature had been billed as an encounter between the synthetic biology community (biotech scientists practicing an extreme form of genetic engineering that builds artificial organisms) and the conservation biology community who are still trying to hold back the frontier of wildlife destruction for non-engineered nature.

A Mammoth Distraction - Syn Bio and 'De-extinction'.

A Mammoth Distraction - Syn Bio and 'De-extinction'.

 

The distracting allure of a technofix is a common trick deployed by those pushing risky technologies. Nuclear power we are told might just solve climate change,  GM food could feed the hungry, "DDT is good for you" etc. But the latest eyecatching technofix under discussion at a conference in Cambridge this week is a real dodo: 'Synthetic Biology' we are now told will reverse extinction of species and conserve biodiversity. Really ?

Normalizing Geoengineering as Foreign Aid

Normalizing Geoengineering as Foreign Aid

Climate Drift: Geoengineers have a problem. Computer modeling suggests that blocking solar radiation in the temperate zone (to preserve Arctic ice or to forestall massive methane releases) could cool the Northern hemisphere but its impact could also drift South, creating severe climatic disruptions by dampening down Asia’s monsoon while drying out Africa’s Sahel. Not a popular proposition.

Now, geoengineers may hope they have a solution. A new study in Nature Climate Change[i] by the UK Government’s Meteorological Office suggests that some form of solar radiation management could mitigate the conventional vicissitudes of nature. According to the report, volcanic eruptions north of the equator in the 20th century either contributed to – or caused – droughts along the African equator and further South.

Tunis 2013: If we rely on corporate seed, we lose food sovereignty

World Social Forum Event organized by La Via Campesina, GRAIN and ETC Group

GROWING POWER IN PEASANT SEEDS SYSTEMS: Farmers seeds and struggle against GMOs, AGRA- 2nd Green Revolution. Tunis, March 29.

It has become crucial to defend seeds. In the past 20 or 30 years, what was once seen as normal – peasant farmers growing, selecting, saving and exchanging seeds – has come under attack from corporations seeking to control and commodify the very basis of agriculture.

Case Study: Ocean Fertilization near Haida Gwaii

Full links and background on the 2012 ocean fertilization scheme by HSRC.

In October 2012 ETC Group uncovered that a commercial geoengineering firm had quietly carried out the world's largest geoengineering deployment to-date (in July 2012). When the news became public as a result of ETC Group's investigations, it caused a wave of concern among scientists, governments, the public and of course the people of Haida Gwaii. HSRC have since said they intend to carry out further ocean fertilization dumps. On this page we have collected some of the background on the Haida Gwaii ocean fertilization episode, how the story was reported, the legal situation, the science and more.

Informational Backgrounder on the 2012 Haida Gwaii Iron Dump

Almost six years ago ETC Group blew the whistle on a commercial geoengineering outfit called Planktos, Inc., which was making its way to dump 100 tons of iron nanoparticles into the waters of the Galapagos Islands . Working with allies ETC Group was able to prevent that ocean fertilisation dump. In 2012 however we were less lucky. The same geoengineering entrepeuner, Russ George, suceeded in dumping over 100 tonnes of iron into the Pacific ocean west of Haida Gwaii in Canada, claiming that his actions had prompted a 10,000 square km plankton bloom. This time his new company, The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation (HSRC), was using millions of dollars in funds from a small indigenous community. Read here the full story of how ETC Group uncovered HSRC's rogue geoengineering scheme and the storm of international concern that ensued.

Geoengineering – The Opium of the People? Pain-killer, Plane-chiller, Plane crasher

Geoengineering – The Opium of the People? Pain-killer, Plane-chiller, Plane crasher

In the first two months of 2013, leading advocates of geoengineering have argued variously that researching geoengineering (as a Plan B to GHG emission cuts) is like helping a cancer patient manage pain while seeking a cure; or, that an accelerating gaggle of executive jets circling the equator could spray enough sulphuric acid in the stratosphere to keep the Earth’s thermostat within bounds; or, that a single island state could thumb its nose at the military might of the major powers and geoengineer the planet to its liking. So much lobbying and still months to go before the IPCC delivers its fifth assessment report – with an anticipated treatment of geoengineering.

ETC Group at the World Social Forum 2013

Tunis, Tunisia

ETC Group will be participating at the 3rd World Forum on Science and Democracy and the World Social Forum 2013 that will take place in Tunis, capital city of Tunisia between 23-30 March 2013. Come join us in various activities, workshops and assemblies! We hope to meet you there!

To know more about our side event Geoengineering: Resisting Climate Manipulation, click here.

Date: 
Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 09:30 to Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 19:30

Gene Giants Seek “Philanthrogopoly”

Ag monopoly makes mergers suspect – Big Six create “charity” cartel instead, conning regulators and public breeders

Issue: The Gene Giants know their market dominance looks conspicuously like an anticompetitive oligopoly, so they’re launching a series of initiatives – including the false promise of cheap, post-patent GE seeds – to mollify antitrust regulators and soften opposition to transgenics while advancing their collective market control. Meanwhile, the world’s two richest men – Bill Gates and Mexico’s Carlos Slim – are working with CIMMYT (the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) to make bargain GE seeds and traits available to farmers in the global South.

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