Jim Thomas is Research Director with the ETC Group, an international technology watchdog that tracks emerging technologies, corporate power, agriculture and biodiversity. He writes about the social and environmental impacts of Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology and Geoengineering as well as the corporate and government strategies around these technologies. Jim is co-author of several ETC Group reports and the book Earth Grab published by Pambazuka Press.
We are hearing new promises that synthetic biology and GMOs 2.0 will combat climate change, decrease pressure on land or even save endangered species. But these promises are just industry hype to encourage investment and keep away regulators.
There is less than a day to go before the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com hands hundreds of thousands of dollars to a controversial project for the widespread and unregulated distribution of over half a million extreme-bioengineered seeds. In my view Kickstarter could still do the right thing and refuse to fund this risky release.
The press release had a pretty stark headline: "Haida Announce Termination of Russ George." George was the guy who persuaded the small impoverished indigenous community of Old Massett on Haida Gwaii to part with over $2.5-million. He did so under the pretense that dumping iron in the ocean to stimulate a plankton bloom would net lucrative profits in the carbon credit market. Losing the rogue geoengineer may be good for optics, but it is a meaningless step unless the Haida also jettison his junk visions to manipulate the oceans and climate.
Three biohackers from California have hijacked the Kickstarter machinery -- they have made Kickstarter the conduit for a nationwide release of untested, unregulated and unmonitored bioengineered organisms.