Time To Question Bio-Engineering [Question Mark]

I came across this bio-ethics video when I re-watch Craig Venter’s three speeches in TED. This thoughts-provoking video is also available on its official TED page  just in case you don’t have the access to YouTube.

The contents of the speaker mainly contains three parts:

  • Typical transgenic technology;
  • Computer Controls Brains;
  • Synthetic Life, or synthetic biology.

And I’ll briefly analyse them separately to calm down your potential fear after you’ve watched it.

Transgenic technology, safe

Public fears and concerns towards transgenic plant or animal have been there for years even though the scientific expects in China, at least, acclaimed that they are safe. The reason why people are afraid of transgenic technology and furthermore reject it is that public people don’t know it at all, or have limited understanding.

You must have read lots of articles explaining why transgenic technology is safe, or on the other hand, dangerous. And here I believe current products of transgenic technology in your daily life are safe and healthy, because most of them are protein product indeed. It is the exogenous genes are translocated and expressed in the host, but the outcome is protein according to the known central dogma, hence the protein cannot hybridize with your genome so that you will not be mutated to Rice-Man. No need to  panic.

GFP with its variants under UV

As far as the illuminating-man is concerned in the video, it’s somehow exaggerating. Most GFP (green fluorescent protein) can only been seen by naked eyes under UV (ultraviolet light), which means if you wish to see the man with transgenic GFP, the man must be exposed to the harmful UV light. Possible?  To be firefly? Still a long way to go.

Hybridization, unknown

Hybridization, on the other hand, is completely a mess though it shares similarities with transgenic technology. That’s why the speaker put the bio-illuminating animals with hybridization animals.

It’s a regular and normal to be upset by the Liger, Tiglon, etc, due to people are born to be afraid of what they are unfamiliar with, so are scientists. Scientists cannot be confident enough explain the mechanisms why the hybridized cells can grow to matured individual, let alone predict the potential risks if the hybridized pork were on market. It is really like the magical Chinese traditional medicine. They don’t know how the mixed  herbal medicine work, but they are pretty sure how to get them mixed to cure diseases. The same things applies to hybridization. What hybridization do is just make use of a characteristic of cell (or strictly nucleus) — omnipotency.

Computer “Brains”

This remote-control cyborg beetle came to this world few years ago. It strongly reminds me of a series of comics named Star Fleet (or X-Bomber).

I’ve to confess that I’ve limited understanding about the research, but apparently it is a huge step in neuroscience.

Synthetic Biology, Bright Future

“Synthetic Life”, “Synthetic Biology” more fit for hybridization, I suggest, if Liger still haunts you. Now what about synthetic biology? Is it more endangering? Let’s hear how the father of the first synthetic life said,

It’s true Synthia’s parent is computer, not organic life. However, another truth is that Craig Venter never create a new life, but copy a life.


Basically the video included all the bio-tech into bio-engineering, and provoked your antipathy to bio-tech. But, be calm down please. It’s time to question bio-engineering? Probably just some parts of bio-engineering.


Leave a Comment