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View other events for the week of 7/26/2012
Richmond Community Meeting -- LBNL & UCB "Second Campus" Proposal (Synthetic Biology)
Date Thursday July 26
Time 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Location Details
Richmond Bay Campus Community Workshop
July 26, 2012, 7-8:30PM (Doors open at 6:30PM)
Richmond Memorial Auditorium
403 Civic Center Plaza
Event Type Meeting
The City of Richmond has announced a community meeting about the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Second Campus:

Richmond Bay Campus Community Workshop
July 26, 2012, 7-8:30PM (Doors open at 6:30PM)
Richmond Memorial Auditorium
403 Civic Center Plaza

Come hear from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley about the proposed project, join a discussion, and offer your thoughts and ideas. Please RSVP:

The city, and the lab, have also released a one page description of the planned lab. Amazingly, the flyer says not one word about synthetic biology.


Environmental Harms:

Synthetic biology threatens the world's biodiversity through the contamination of genomes that have evolved over billions of years with synthetic DNA. Once it has contaminated a species, this synthetic DNA cannot be recalled and will pass on indefinitely through generations.

Some applications involve growing synthetic organisms in open ponds or intentionally releasing them into the environment. While other types of pollution can be cleaned up and do not breed, synthetic biological creations are designed to self-replicate and once released into the environment they would be impossible to stop.

The ways in which these organisms will interact with the natural environment is unpredictable, potentially devastating, and permanent. A synthetic organism designed for a specific task, such as eating up oil from oil spills in the ocean, could interact with naturally occurring organisms and adversely harm the environment. The synthetic organism could displace existing organisms or interfere with the existing ecosystem. Once it found an ecological niche in which to survive, it would be difficult if not impossible to eradicate.

Socioeconomic Harms:

Synthetic biology is creating a new "bioeconomy" in which any and all types of biomass can become a feedstock to produce industrial products such as fuel, chemicals, medicines, and plastics.

Theoretically any product made from petrochemicals can one day be made by syn-thetic microbes in a vat eating plant sugars. But who will decide what plant matter is turned into an industrial feed stock, who decides what land is used to grow food or bio-mass, and whose land will be used to grow these feedstocks for synthetic organisms?

Synthetic biology enthusiasts falsely assume there will be an endless supply of biomass and "marginal" land to fuel their biological revolution. These "marginal" lands are often the source of livelihood for small-scale farmers, pastoralists, women, and indigenous peoples. These "marginal" lands should be used to grow food for local communities, not fuel or industrial chemicals for wealthy nations. Synthetic organisms require an incredible amount of land, water, and fertilizer – all of which are already in short supply for food production. Increasing pressure on already strained land will only worsen issues of land grabbing, land ownership, biodiversity, and the health of the land and surrounding communities.

Biosecurity Threats:

The poliovirus and the 1918 Spanish Influenza have already been recreated using mail-order DNA from a DNA synthesis company and were proven to be deadly in lab rats. A growing "Do-it-Yourself biology" movement that encourages the use of synthetic biology tools in people's garages increases the risk that dangerous pathogens may be intentionally or unintentionally created and released.

Further Resources:

The Bay Area Bio Lab & Synthetic Biology, False Solutions Part 1

The Bay Area Bio Lab & Synthetic Biology, False Solutions Part Two, Panel Discussion

Berkeley Scholar Raises Alarm on Synthetic Biology


Alliance for Humane Biotechnology

ETC Group
Added to the calendar on Wednesday Jul 18th, 2012 8:44 PM

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