FOEA Emerging tech Project

Nano zinc in sunscreen may be made more dangerous when combined with common household chemicals

While concerns have been raised about the safety of nano-zinc, current government advice is that there is insufficient evidence for it to be considered dangerous. Now a new study reported on the ABC has suggested that when nano-zinc is mixed with surfactants — a common class of chemical found in detergents, shampoos, and pharmaceutical products — the combined effect can be more toxic than nano-zinc alone. Louise Sales, nano-campaigner at...

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Religious right fights corporate right in patent stoush

Good news of sorts on the patent front. After decades of expansive interpretations of patent law to include patents on pretty much anything, including life, knowledge and ideas; after decades of governments supporting expansion of intellectual property protections for the benefit of corporations, we have a small step in the other direction. In two recent, rulings the conservative US Supreme Court has limited the scope of patents, rejecting...

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Glow in the dark synbio plants

In April 2013, a group of ‘bio-hackers’ from California used the social media fund-raising website Kickstarter to raise almost half a million dollars to commercialise a synthetic biology plant that glows in the dark. In exchange for seed funding the ‘glowing plant project; promised to send 100’s of thousands of bioengineered seeds to over 6000 random individuals across North America – in effect a large unregulated release of a synthetic...

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Spraying sulphate aerosols into the atmosphere

Human inaction on climate change has led to some crazy ideas and suggestions − most notably geoengineering − the large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract climate change. Geoengineering ideas include seeding blooms of ocean algae with iron nanoparticles; reflecting the sun’s warming rays back into space with lots of tiny mirrors; and covering the Sahara desert with trees. But at the top of this list of insane ideas...

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Carbon nanotubes in agriculture

Scientists have discovered that carbon nanotubes can boost plant growth if they are treated to be more soluble and are absorbed by plants. One research group has even produced ‘bionic plants’ by inserting carbon nanotubes into plant chloroplasts, suggesting that this may enhance photosynthesis. Carbon nanotubes have also been touted as potential directed delivery systems for pesticides, fertilisers, and other chemicals because of their ability...

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