by admin

January 26, 2012

from Gaia-Health Website

Spanish version


You thought genetically modified organisms could be dangerous?


Hold on, because synthetic genetic engineering is taking it to a whole new level. It goes beyond inserting genes from one life into another by manufacturing DNA never imagined in nature - by creating synthetic DNA from non-living materials.





Synthetic genetic engineering - synthetic biology or SynBio - is, literally, the creation of synthetic life.


It’s the manufacture of life-forms or the modification of living organisms using non-biological materials. It’s a step beyond genetic engineering, in which the DNA from one organism is implanted into another. The DNA itself may be manufactured, literally created in a lab.

SynBio is, in fact, a combination of several technologies and types of science, including,

  • biology

  • chemistry

  • physics

  • computer science

  • nanotechnology

  • engineering

It’s also, in line with computer science, sometimes called bio-hacking, a term that evokes much of what it’s about.


The purpose is to decrypt the biological code so that it can be redirected to other uses - a bit like breaking into a computer, taking control of its processor, and giving it directions to do something different from its original purpose.

In Climate Connections, Jeff Conant describes it like this:

Synthetic DNA is used to fabricate biological building blocks - often called “BioBrick” - capable of being combined in many different ways.


“Parts” are assembled into “circuits” which are inserted into a “chassis” to create designer microbial factories that can be “booted up” to manufacture proteins or detect molecules that nature herself may never have dreamed up.

SynBio is the act of treating life as if it were simply a form of mechanical object.


Separation from Reality

The Lie at the Heart of Making Biofuel from Sea Algae” reports on an extreme disconnect from reality.


Yasuo Yoshikuni, the CEO of a company that hopes to sell its genetically engineered bacteria to eat brown sea algae and excrete ethanol, makes the nonsensical claim that brown sea algae will absorb the effluent from factory farms.


As that article explains, the truth is the opposite:

Brown sea algae is killed by agribusiness effluent.

To be able to make such a claim requires divorce from reality.

That is the true danger of SynBio. The belief that we humans - or at least those few who are among the chosen or developers of technology - are exempt from the laws of nature. The belief that we can behave as if we have no connection to the planet from which we come is the worst kind of hubris.


We’re seeing it already in genetic engineering.



Known Risks of Genetic Engineering

Genetically modified corn is an endocrine disruptor.


It’s causing infertility to the point of destroying Agribusiness’ pig factory farms, severely harming cattle reproduction, and is strongly suspected in human fertility problems. Genetically modified crops are failing suddenly.


Superweeds, a direct result of genetically modified crops, grow to huge sizes and at accelerated rates. Genetically modified foods are literally changing us by changing  our gut biota. Farmers in India are committing suicide in the thousands because they’ve lost their ability to farm after trying genetically modified crops.


The toxins from genetically modified foods are showing up in virtually all pregnant women and their fetuses.

These are all unintended effects of genetic engineering. Yet, the promoters of it wear blinders to the damage. They hide behind the profanity of misused science.


They make claims like,

“No one has ever proven…”

In their arrogance, they completely ignore the Precautionary Principle.



The Unknown Risks

What might be the unintended consequences of genetic engineering’s offsping, SynBio?


And that, of course, is the problem. We’re just beginning to see the extent of the harms in genetic modification. Warnings were given. Studies were done. But they were ignored in favor of fraudulent industry-controlled fabrications. For the most part, they still are.


Those paying attention are not the regulators, who have been bought out by the profiteers.



The Money

There’s serious money behind SynBio.


Pouring resources into are primarily the Big Three of,

These are, of course, deeply interrelated arenas, as chemistry and pharmaceuticals both are tied to petroleum as the basis of the bulk of their products. So, what they’re doing is taking over and pushing the next big area of Big Business.


(It should come as no surprise that the Bill Gates Foundation is right in there with them, by the way.)

It’s being pitched as “cool science”, described by Jeff Conant as:

…an enthralling world of lucrative, cutting edge research spearheaded by outsized young vanguardists sporting an aura of entrepreneurial genius, an element of mad scientist, and a dash of rock star.

All their energy is in service to the profits of multinational corporations.


We should have no illusions about it. The entire field of SynBio is being harnessed to serve the interests of profits. Any benefits to humanity will exist only in terms of those profits. Any harms will be ignored and, as we’ve seen with genetic engineering, covered up.

Gaia Health is not against the concept of SynBio. It may be able to provide benefits to humanity. However, as it’s now constituted, that’s not its purpose. Its purpose is to create profits for multinational corporations.


As we’ve seen again and again, when profits become the motivating force behind anything, then it’s routinely corrupted.


The harms from pollution, distortion of society, alienation of people, loss of the natural world, and so much more are too high a price. As a rule, the benefits are seen only by the relatively wealthy of the world. The poor gain little and suffer greatly.

We all are suffering from the harms of genetic engineering, and virtually the only people benefitting from it are the elite - the one percenters who rake in the ill-gotten winnings.


A benefit here and here may trickle down, but at a price that society needs to consider. The future of us all is hanging in the balance of genetic engineering alone. And now, we have SynBio bearing down on us, too.

What travesties might come of rampant SynBio? We don’t know.


But we do know that, whatever they are, as long as SynBio is conjoined to profits, they won’t be considered.