jueves, diciembre 17, 2015

Extreme biotech meets extreme energy

Paris, 24th November 2015 - At the upcoming Climate summit in Paris, some governments and much of civil society will be pushing for an urgent transition away from the carbon-rich fossil fuels responsible for climate chaos. However, one hi-tech sector, the multi-billion dollar Synthetic Biology industry, is now actively tying its future to the very oil, coal and gas extraction it once claimed to be able to displace. That’s the conclusion of a new report released jointly today from the ETC Group and Heinrich Böll Foundation. Titled “Extreme Biotech meets Extreme Energy”, the report predicts that as the extreme biotech industry and the extreme extraction industry move towards deeper collaboration, the biosafety risks and climate threats emanating from them will become ever more entangled.

Synthetic Biology (or Syn Bio) describes a set of new and emerging genetic engineering techniques and is also the name for a surging young industry that is designing and engineering life-forms from scratch for industrial purposes. The first round of synthetic biology companies sold themselves to investors on the promise of a ‘clean green’ industry that would replace fossil fuels with biofuels and bioplastics made from sugar and cellulose. However, Syn Bio industry leaders are now retooling their companies explicitly in order to serve the petrochemical industry and to increase the value and flow of fossil minerals from the frackfields and oilfields to commercial markets.

“Only five years ago Syn Bio industry CEOs were posturing that they would bring about a sugar-based bioeconomy that would do away with dirty fossil fuels” explains Jim Thomas, Programme Director with ETC Group. “Now those same CEOs are restructuring their operations to prop up the oil and gas majors and their green promises are melting along with the ice sheets.” 

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