FOEA Emerging tech Project

Chain Reaction Magazine

The July 2014 edition of Chain Reaction – The National Magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia is now available to download.

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The New Sorcerer’s Apprentices?

Climate scientists have watched with mounting alarm as carbon dioxide concentrations have increased relentlessly. The anxiety has deepened each year as it has become clearer that the range of emissions paths mapped out by experts in the 1990s and early 2000s were unduly optimistic. The actual growth in emissions – boosted by explosive growth in China – is worse than the worst-case scenario. Alarm has spread to staid organisations,...

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The Brave New World of Synbio

Here’s a thought experiment: what if living things were actually machines? What if they were the sort of machines that you could take apart, reprogram, and hack to do something entirely new? Plants that glowed like light bulbs? Yeast that produced vanilla? Bacteria that took photographs? The biotechnology industry has spent years trying to think that way and it’s the impetus to a rapidly exploding industry called synthetic biology.

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Brewing bad: engineering new forms of life

The recent announcement of the creation of the first synthetic yeast chromosome has sent shockwaves through the scientific community. While many external commentators saw the computer design and synthesis of an artificial chromosome as one small step on a long journey of genetic modification – we should not underestimate this building and seemingly successful transplantation of an entire chromosome into a complex life form such as this yeast...

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Synthetic biology: Genetic Engineering Goes Extreme

Exactly twenty years ago the first genetically modified (GM) food entered commercial use, sparking massive controversy, trade fights and resistance from farmers, consumers and workers worldwide. Now the biotech industry is poised for a second assault on the food system with a technology platform they are calling ‘Synthetic Biology’, dubbed ‘extreme genetic engineering’ or ‘GMO 2.0’, a new hi-tech means of...

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