Bay Area may be at risk from synthetic biology research labs

MercuryNews | March 27, 2012

By Emily Smith Beitiks

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory recently announced a proposal to build a facility in Richmond at which synthetic biology research will be a major focus. This news should give us pause to consider exactly what risks this little-known field poses for the environment and for human health.

Last year, molecular biologist Becky McClain was awarded $1.37 million in a whistle-blower suit against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer after she was fired for raising safety concerns about the lab where she worked. McClain was infected with a genetically engineered virus being researched in her lab. She continues to experience intermittent paralysis and spinal pain — symptoms consistent with the effects of the pathogen.

McClain’s story offers an important lesson for assessing a new kind of bioengineering: the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, which already has been called genetic engineering on steroids.

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1 Comment on "Bay Area may be at risk from synthetic biology research labs"

  1. The forbidden box of knowledge has been opened! A bottomless pit of unending, and even life-as-we-know-it ending problems are being created! People are already experiencing “symptoms of unknown origin”! Various nervous system diseases, like autism, are increasing, as the articles on this website have stated! Coincedence? Highly doubtful! Nano/Bio tech researchers have created pathogens that by-pass the “blood-brain barrier”. Accidental or weaponized release of these pathogens would be devastating!

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