FOEA Emerging tech Project

Doomsday Clock edges closer to midnight as risks of emerging tech go unchecked

This year the Doomsday Clock was set at three minutes to midnight, two minutes closer to catastrophe than in 2014. The members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board cited unchecked climate change, nuclear weapons and emerging technological threats such as synthetic biology and artificial intelligence as the reasons we are teetering towards global catastrophe. According to the Bulletin “world leaders have failed to...

Read More

Government’s deregulatory extremism puts public at risk

We are surrounded by regulation. Every moment of our waking and sleeping lives is populated with a vast regulatory network. There are thousands of regulations relating to our homes, our clothes, our foods, the way we drive, the places we work, the wages we receive, the super we contribute to, the environment we live in and depend on for life. Many of these regulations have saved lives and protected property and biodiversity. But regulation in...

Read More

194 countries call for the regulation of synthetic biology

In a unanimous decision of 194 countries, the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has formally urged nation states to regulate synthetic biology (synbio). The landmark decision follows ten days of hard-fought negotiations between developing countries and a small group of wealthy biotech-friendly economies. Until now, synthetic organisms have been developed and commercialised without international regulations and...

Read More

Australia must support a precautionary approach to synbio at COP12

As global governments meet to discuss synthetic biology (synbio) at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting (COP12) in South Korea, Friends of the Earth is calling for a moratorium on the commercial release of synthetically modified organisms (SMOs) until a legally binding international framework for synbio is developed and implemented. Synbio is an extreme version of genetic engineering. Instead of swapping genes from one species to...

Read More

Australian court hands biotech company a patent on life

“A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” These are the first words in a 2013 US Supreme Court decision regarding a patent on the human BRCA 1 gene – a product of nature that has been isolated. Last week the Australian Federal Court ruled that the same patent was valid  – directing contradicting the Supreme Court decision. The Federal Court’s...

Read More