Genetic engineering is all the rage with proponents of false solutions to climate change, especially in regard to the production of wood burning biomass, which many studies show can be even more harmful than burning coal. However, a new and even more dangerous form of manipulating nature is lurking around the corner — synthetic biology.
According to this Inter Press Service article by Desmond Brown, synthetic biology uses computers and other devices to generate biological parts. The current major player is Evolva, a Swiss biotech firm that produces engineered flavors and fragrances. Evolva has its eyes set on the vetiver plant, a common ingredient in perfume, grown by small-scale farmers in Haiti.
by Desmond Brown, IPS, 7 October 2014
Haitian vetiver is highly regarded among perfumers, and it is a key ingredient in some of the finest and most expensive perfumes in the world.
However, struggling Haitians who farm this product could be dealt another harsh blow with the introduction of a new industry – synthetic biology. Although still undefined, synthetic biology can be described as ‘extreme genetic engineering,’ and refers broadly to the use of computer-assisted, biological engineering to design and construct new synthetic biological parts, devices and systems, and to redesign existing biological organisms.
“In countries like Haiti there are high-value agricultural exports that form a significant part of the economy, and those high-value low-volume goods are slated to be created by companies like Evolva and could replace the truly natural products,” Dana Perls, food and technology campaigner with the civil society group Friends of the Earth U.S., told IPS.