We are sequencing the world -- from ourselves to all of the organisms upon which we depend as a living planet. In the future, our planetary genome might include new life forms built in the lab; there is even talk of the possibility of a resurrected Neanderthal, carried by a surrogate human mother. Science fiction? Not anymore.
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There's nothing inspiring or empowering about two male CEOs taking credit for a young woman's work while twisting the entire purpose from being about reproductive health to being little more than a joke. But a 20-year-old ultrafeminist scientist who's about to launch her own company? That will be something to watch.
We can sadly reflect on the brutal history of colonization that American Indians faced when Europeans "discovered" and then claimed their lands. Now, centuries later, the ongoing colonization process threatens to colonize not only their lands, but even the genetics of the trees in their forests that are central to their history and livelihoods.
George Church -- professor at Harvard and MIT, multifaceted researcher, entrepreneur, author and advocate of open-access genomics -- gives good quotation. The latest publication to exploit this is The Economist, which just ran a feature about him called "Welcome to my genome," which includes some of Church's predictions for human genetic modification.
The effort to produce algae biofuels has been underway for many, many years, though you wouldn't know it given that there are still virtually none being produced at commercial scale. The hype about making "cheap, abundant fuels with nothing but sunlight and water" remains in spite of the reality on the ground.
The latest term buzzing around the food world is one you're not likely to know: synthetic biology, or "synbio." Grist calls it "the next front in the never-ending GMO war." So while we're still figuring out what to make of GMOs, farmers, food suppliers and chefs should start to get to know this new method for developing foods.
Animal gene editing is being used to create miniature pigs, cows without horns and hairier cashmere goats. Plastic surgery might eventually extend to the molecular domain, changing us from the inside out. The scientists in this movement stand to become some of the wealthiest scientist-entrepreneurs in history, depending on the outcome of patent wars. But there could be immense unforeseen consequences.