Thursday, February 28, 2008

Craig Venter, synthetic lifeforms

Craig is involved in perhaps the most earth shattering (so to speak!) new technologies that as he puts it in New Scientist magazine, "over the next 20 years, synthetic genomics is going to be the standard for making anything...We really need to find an alternative to taking carbon out of the ground, burning it and putting it into the atmosphere. That is the single biggest contribution I could make." The sound of the potential impact, creating synthetic lifeforms, is scary, but the reality is that no matter how we harvest energy from the planet, we will deplete it's resources. By "creating" energy, we have the potential to find a path to equilibrium. There are numerous efforts
like this but Craig is the clear leader. At the lanch of the UC Irvine Brehn Center I had the opportunity to watch the growth of 100% synthetic plants and flowers which were made by copying the genetics. Craig is actually creating new life forms. Through genomics, a small team can now do what it's taken twenty years to do in the traditional model. A key component is not only to NOT use additional natural resources, but if we can use C02 as the core of synthetic fuels we may actually create a financial incentive to clean up the atmosphere. As he pointed out, there appears to be inherent challenges to biofuels in that it dramatically impacts the pricing of food worldwide as well as cause the need to destroy more forests worldwide in order to accommodate the worlds need for sustenance.

1 comment:

guru bengkulu said...

Really great question came are you going to protect the technology so that it isn't used for destructive purposes. Craig answered that every precaution is taken and that we MUST move these new approaches forward. He indicated that e coli has been studied for 30 years without becoming a destructive tool.