May 25, 2010

Shaddup and Sign the Checks

Christina Agapakis is working on her PhD in biology at Harvard. She weighs in on the recent transplantation of a genome:
The reaction to the Venter Institute's synthetic genome transplantation has been decidedly mixed. Is this the beginning of something new and wonderful, the ability to really design organisms from scratch? Is it something more sinister, the beginning of a dark era where techno-corporate (or terrorist) interests can design something that will destroy the environment in catastrophic ways?...
Note the threat prioritization implicit in the phrasing 'techno-corporate (or terrorist) interests'.

Agapakis concludes:
Synthia is important for showing what big budgets and bigger patience can do, and for continuing and broadening the public discussion on synthetic biology....The possibilities are endless and it's up to all of us to make sure that it's good for everyone.'s up to all of us to make sure that it's good for everyone. Make sure that it's good for everyone.

More Agapakis:
Hey Senator, stay out of my research!!!

Senator Sam Brownback recently introduced a bill to congress to ban the creation of human-animal hybrids that blur the line between species. Clearly, this is a huge setback for synthetic biology.
Her research? Is Agapakis an heiress? No, she has an NSF fellowship and her research is funded by the US Army. (!)

You don't have to be a fan of Sam Brownback to grant that a US Senator has a legitimate interest in government-funded research. Or maybe he's not part of Agapakis's 'we'.
The foregoing is hardly worth mention as an individual case. I've tracked down the links because I suspect that Agapakis is an example of a mentality and a type that makes me uneasy about the future.

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