Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Fred Bass to discuss issues surrounding synthetic biology.
You might be wondering just what is synthetic biology and I don't think you'd be alone. Most of us are familiar with GMOs and the changing agricultural business with big players like Monsanto spreading their influence worldwide and the havoc it's causing on our environment. However, synthetic biology goes even further than modifying organisms to manipulating DNA, the building blocks of life, to create new organisms that didn't previously exist.
The possibilities are enormous and can range from helping rebuild a kidney which is failing, to creating a new type of yeast that produces vanilla or saffron without ever touching a vanilla bean or a crocus flower. As all technologies, its potential could be used for good or for harm. Lord Martin Rees refers to this potential as "terror or error" implying that we might purposefully create something harmful, such as the Agent Orange defoliant used during the Vietnam War, or, in error create something harmful. And as MIT professor, Kevin Esvelt says, "Do you really have the right to run an experiment where if you screw up, it affects the whole world?"
Right now synthetic biology receives scant formal oversight and Bass is asking why governments have done so little to regulate its development. The ethical, moral and spiritual questions that arise need to be discussed by ordinary citizens and Dr. Bass is encouraging these conversations about how this research should proceed and what should be done.
If you'd like to be a part of the discussion, please join us:
30 OCTOBER 2016, 1:00PM
QUAKER MEETING HOUSE
1090 West 70th Ave. (1 block west of Oak St.)
Vancouver, V6P 2X9
16 NOVEMBER 2016, 6:15PM
Vancouver Public Library
Oakridge Centre, 191-650 41st Ave. W
Vancouver, BC Canada, V5Z 2M9
We will be posting a longer film on this topic soon. Please stay posted and if you'd like to receive an email update, please sign up on the website. mantarei.com
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Ted Talk with cosmologist Martin Rees ted.com/talks/martin_rees_asks_is_this_our_final_century?language=en
Excellent website and video on What is Synthetic Biology?
Monsanto and Dow Chemical created Agent Orange
Lord Martin Rees's book "Our Final Hour"