Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A new evolution - 3/28/14

With the pace of invention accelerating at an alarming rate society and the way people interact has been changed dramatically. The fields of chemistry, engineering and physics have allowed us to create fields like computer science, which didn't exist 100 years ago. This impressive pace of progress is moving to the field of biology, where modern technologies are allowing us to perform the unprecedented form of creating life from scratch, allowing for amazing new possibilities in all aspects of human life.
In confessions of a botanist the author, Martha Crouch, argues that much of the work she had done in the field of plant breeding and genetics research was misused by Monsanto to create the genetically engineered foods that dominate the markets we have today. With much of her research being implemented by these companies in a manor that allowed them to patent and sell the seeds to plants that could produce significantly more food than classical plants. This created a second green revolution that helped the world grow to hold over 7 billion people, with modern techniques of genetic engineering we could find a way to make new plant strains that are even more pest and weather resilient that can survive in much harsher climates, all while producing even more food in indoor greenhouse towers to feed the cities of the future.The author presents a tone of regret nearing malice when speaking of her past work and how it was used, but it was just a stepping stone to a nearly unrecognizable future where plants have been optimized to take as much energy from sunlight as possible in order to produce unthinkable yields of food in a highly efficient manor.
The invention of artificial life in 2010 was perhaps one of the most groundbreaking things to ever happen in biology. With the phi X174 virus being created by J. Craig Venter we have reached a new landmark in the science of biology that opens the doors to creating custom organisms to make us anything we need using renewable fuels that our machines cannot efficiently capture energy from. While this does open a two way door and has a possibility to lead even more deadly forms of warfare and terrorism, it opens a much wider door which will give humanity the means to continue prospering and even save the planet through renewable creation of gasolines, pharmaceuticals, or even metals that are currently very expensive to manufacture. Combined with the older techniques of genetic manipulation used by Crouch and her team it gives us the power to feed the world even more efficiently and maybe even save it.
These amazing advancements are a way we can use to avoid the catastrophe that will occur if we ever truly outgrow our environments ability to support us. By some genetic engineering may be considered playing god, and perhaps that is the case but it gives us the ability to do things that would've been thought impossible a century ago. Like electricity and the computer synthetic biology and GMOs should not be viewed as man playing with powers he should never control, but as tools we can use to change the World we live in for the better and why not change the World?

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