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Philipp Böing

Founder: Darwin Toolbox, SynBioSoc / UCL iGEM organizer, University College London

TEDCRED 200+

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Should Synthetic Organisms be released to clean plastic pollution from the ocean?

The Problem: Microplastic pollution in the ocean.
Proposed Solution: Engineered Organisms that can collect the pollution into recyclable pieces. (the science behind this: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/igem2012 )
A video explanation: http://youtu.be/rEDLg03teOk

Should Synthetic Organisms be released to clean plastic pollution from the ocean? Is synthetic biology the only solution to plastic pollution? Can we anticipate and prevent any negative repercussions? Do the potential risks outweigh the benefits? Who could profit from this? Who calls the shots?

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  • Jul 13 2012: No to Synthetic Organisms. Yes to robots. Big robots, not nanobots. Solar powered drones moving through the ocean that can serve many purposes, data collection and garbage collection in particular.

    (It would be impossible to test the effect of nanobots on all of the species in the oceans; we haven't discovered all of them yet.)
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      Jul 13 2012: You would need a lot of big robots. Solar powered always sounds nice, but you need a lot of rare materials to produce them and i don't think that solar modules produce enough energy unless we can copy the efficiency of photosynthesis...like in an synthetic organism. So robots may sound more familiar today (this has not always been the case) but could actually do more harm than an synthetic organism.
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      Jul 16 2012: that will actually destroy coral reefs in the process, another reason we cant even go to clean up the bottom of the ocean floor, these plastic bags are entagled in the reefs, any pulling will damage them. were screwed basically.

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