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Nanotech and biotech

Home Forums Community Dreaming / Crazy Ideas / Speculation Nanotech and biotech

This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Farmer Farmer 3 years, 12 months ago.

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  • #1408
    Profile photo of Farmer
    Farmer
    Participant

    So, I got to thinking about nanotech just because it can make such strong, light materials.
    I then thought that a self assembling material that organized itself out of minerals already found in sea water would be perfect.
    Then I realized that’s called coral.
    Genetic modification could be used to make the coral build a buoyancy mechanism, If that mechanism already exists in another crustacean then the task is actually quite easy; something a grad student could do in his spare time.
    It does exist; several different kinds in many different crustaceans.
    So I started wondering what other Genetic engineering possibilities have we not considered.
    For the sake of conversation here is a brief overview:
    There are two kinds of genetic engineering.
    One is “viral therapy” an organism is infected with a virus that contains a desired gene. The virus gets inside the organisms cells and deposits the gene there. This can only be used to make small changes, like making fish that produce bioluminescent protein in there skin. (You can actually buy these online these days) or (potentially) getting a diabetic’s body to produce insulin.
    To make any really big changes (say, functioning gills on a cat) you have to use the same virus but it has to deposit a chunk of chromosome containing many genes in the right place inside a germ cell (sperm or ovum) and then you can grow the new critter from that germ cell.
    We could make familiar plants salt tolerant, domesticate marine animals in a generation rather than over thousands of years create not just coral but timber producing trees that will thrive in sea water, the list is endless.
    Of course we could just adapt ourselves rather than the environment.

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    Your thoughts?

    #12156
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    There’s already a verbal war over GMO’s… The whole gene-spliced Salmon controversy and the unknown “what-if’s” that surround it. I mean, it IS a marine predator… What if the modifications don’t do as predicted, providing sterile fish that cannot inter-breed with the ‘wild’ Salmon?

    Extrapolate that to the supposedly domesticable whales and dolphins… Can you guarantee that it will not have a negative impact on the environment, for all time? Their brains are already larger than ours. What if someone alters the brain formation and creates a super-genius dolphing species…? They are already agressive, in many circumstances… Do we go to war with them?

    Domesticated animals are already a serious problem, environmentally. Their food comes from the same sources as ours, so they are competing for our food… If we reduced the pet-population by half, it would be a matter of logistics to feed the world. Already we have logistics nightmares because if grain gets wet it either sprouts or ruins… If we can’t get it to point ‘B’, people starve…

    As for gene-splicing Coral, floating Coral could be devastating to the environment… Turned-loose, even if it’s just granules, a breeding colony could wipe-out a habitat, by increased shading destroying the food/energy chain…

    Later,

    J.L.F.

    Never be afraid to try something new…

    Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.

    #12160
    Profile photo of Farmer
    Farmer
    Participant

    When I was a student and this was all near-term science fiction the biggest worry was the viral vector itself.
    The virus changed to change other critter’s DNA is still there after it does its job. The only time this has been an obvious problem so far is with the monarch butterflies. The monarch only lays its eggs on milkweed plants and milkweed loves the kind of fences farmers put up. Biotech corn, enhanced with natural insecticides taken from other plants has transferred its manmade bug proofing to the milkweed in some areas. Hench the population of Monarch butterflies has crashed.
    So, it’s not just the possible impact of the engineered species itself but the possibility of changing the things that eat it or even just live near it.
    So I understand your concern however I got some bad news or at least a pessimistic opinion.
    It is already too late to worry about it.
    Soybeans built by Monsanto already outnumber soybeans built by nature. This is the post-soybean era. The economic incentive to keep creating these Frankinveggies and the humanitarian impulse to feed the starving are not going to go away.
    Genetic engineering is here to stay.
    Yes there will be problems but frankly any organism that does not serve or please man was not going to last another 1,000 years no matter what.
    EDIT: I bet you 20 to 1 those super salmon replace baseline salmon in short order. Sorry salmon.
    #12161

    Farmer wrote:
    ….Genetic modification could be used to make the coral build a buoyancy mechanism…

    We had the seacreate discussion – but a barnacle (with air bubbles in the shell) that build floating platforms for us would be great…beside the overrated concerns about genetic manipulated organisms.

    #12162
    Profile photo of elspru
    elspru
    Participant

    Farmer wrote:

    The monarch only lays its eggs on milkweed plants

    genetic modification can enhance monarchs to lay eggs on a larger variety of plants

    and milkweed loves the kind of fences farmers put up. Biotech corn, enhanced with natural insecticides taken from other plants has transferred its manmade bug proofing to the milkweed in some areas. Hench the population of Monarch butterflies has crashed.

    Soybeans built by Monsanto already outnumber soybeans built by nature.
    Monsanto is most interested in crashing the human population on the planet.
    That’s precisely why we see it crashing the populations of other species, as a warning.
    Cows that eat Monsanto corn die shortly thereafter.
    Using monsanto soybean products has all the same effects as eating pesticide. itching being common.
    Monsanto products require labratory conditions to grow properly.
    Heirloom and natural seeds, have a diversity of in any species,
    which are optimized for different temperature and percipitation.
    I bet you 20 to 1 those super salmon replace baseline salmon in short order. Sorry salmon.

    They may be better at reproducing short-term,

    however their long-term ability to aquire food and avoid predators in the ocean is questionable.

    If we wish to have a beneficial outcome of genetic modification,

    then have a benevolent purpose in mind, remmbering the ends is the means,

    such as diversifying a species to be more adaptable, useful or edible,

    For instance imagine modifying a potatoes, with tomatoes,

    so that there would be two crops from same, instead of just one.

    if the ground is soft can grow large tubers,

    if the ground is hard can grow large edible fruit.

    could modify it with apios-americana for nitrogen-fixing, vining-habit and flavourful qualities.

    and then something with edible nutritious leaves

    so we could have tuber, fruit and salad from the same plant.

    calm aware desire choice love express intuit move

    #12202
    Profile photo of Farmer
    Farmer
    Participant

    There are certain physical limits to what GE can do. Plants store sugar and other nutrients to cover their own future growth (asparagus, tapioca) provide for their offspring (potatoes, corn) or get animals to disperse their offspring (tomatoes, apples) by being tasty.
    A plant that had to do all of those things at the same time would grow very slowly and produce small amounts of each type of edible tissue. Energy (sugar) out must be less than energy (sunlight) in, same as in physics.
    Back on topic: Yes, the 21st century is an ecological trainwreck. No you and I can’t fix it. Yes there is a more and a less responsible way to do it. Yes humanity will have to pay for all its sins sooner or later.
    Note: North Africa was a fertile prairie up until the end of the Pleistocene era. Then we moved in and now it’s a desert. H. Sapiens being a “weed” is not a new problem.
    I suggest that moving forward tempts disaster, standing still insures it.
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