Homebrew genetic engineering

Tom James @ 27-12-2008

We’re beginning to see the earliest signs of the “garage startup” genetic engineering company:

In her San Francisco dining room lab, for example, 31-year-old computer programmer Meredith L. Patterson is trying to develop genetically altered yogurt bacteria that will glow green to signal the presence of melamine, the chemical that turned Chinese-made baby formula and pet food deadly.

Regardless of what any particular hobbyist or entrepreneur is actually looking for, if you have enough people experimenting there is a good chance they will find something remarkable (what Nassim “black swan” Taleb calls “stochastic tinkering“). Unfortunately there is also a downside:

Jim Thomas of ETC Group, a biotechnology watchdog organization, warned that synthetic organisms in the hands of amateurs could escape and cause outbreaks of incurable diseases or unpredictable environmental damage.

Here’s hoping a balance can be struck between regulation and innovation.

[article from Physorg][image from frankenstoen on flickr]

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3 Responses to “Homebrew genetic engineering”

  1. Jeremy Tolbert says:

    Jim Thomas is an idiot. Yogurt bacteria will never pose a health risk, except it might give you bad gas or something. These people aren’t tinkering with anthrax for god’s sake.

  2. Anon says:

    “Yogurt bacteria will never pose a health risk.”-bullshit.

  3. Richard L. Kent, Esq. says:

    Captain Trips …. paging Captain Trips …. your party, Mr. Randall Flagg, is waiting to meet you in the main hall. Captain Tripps …. paging Captain Trips ….