Wednesday, October 06, 2004

beyond good and evil

You emerge from your Wine Country Limo™ (you did spring for the sparkly grape bubblicious-colored stretch Hummer) in front of the the French Laundry to a parade of fanatics brandishing duck fetus pictures. I can't even tell who I hate more, but at least their embrace is amusing. And for what it's worth, the law will at least stimulate research on the subject more substantial than the current "tastes great!" "more filling!" debate.

And speaking of ethical matters, Nature is worried enough about "synthetic biology" to ask "Is it now time for another Asilomar?" By which they mean:

Almost 30 years ago, concerns that recombinant DNA technology could pose risks to human health and the environment prompted leading molecular biologists to call an unprecedented summit. They gathered at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California, in February 1975, where they decided to voluntarily forego some kinds of research and to instigate safety measures to prevent abuses of the new techniques.

Is it now time for another Asilomar? Researchers involved in synthetic biology generally agree that more discussion of how to avoid risks is urgently needed, but have yet to take the formal step of calling for a summit. Some concerns were aired at a special session at the First International Meeting on Synthetic Biology, held in June at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, but it did not set out to produce policy recommendations.

Also; the 5-second rule has been proven to be mistaken; Europeans really don't want GM food; two takes [currently the second item; look into permalinks please, Regina] on the "arsenal" we are supposed to unleash on our batterie -- or something... Sorry, got a bit distracted there by my mental Metallica; let's just hope she refrains from walnut-cilantro paste in her Wellington, as Ruth Reichl could not; Josh and Bruce have tasty links, as always. See you in a couple weeks.


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