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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 18 2012: Certainly not! By reason of the complexity of the systems involved, the comparatively trivial level of our understanding, the potential scale of the fall out and the infallible law of unintended consequences.

    How did such large quantities of plastic become deposited in the seas in the first place? By our certain knowledge that no great harm would come of it!

    I would rather trust nature to take care of the problem in its own manner in its own time, even if it takes 10,000 years - that is a mere blip. The most important role we can play is to stop adding to the problems nature must contend with. The clear lesson is not to be so disregarding of things we don't understand.

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