Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Science as Spectator Sport

Now Eppendork loves her science and is quite willing to admit to anyone this fact. I have also been known to extol the virtues at home and abroad about my science. However, my science has a time (all the time) and a place (in the lab or lab office) not, I repeat not (because I just feel strongly about this) at home. That's right people not at home, not in your wardrobe, not in your bathroom, not in the garage and definitely not in the kitchen. What brought this particular rant to the fore I hear you say? This article in the New Scientist that Eppendork stumbled across today. My favourite quote comes from Katherine Aull, Ms Aull decided to make a GMO in her closet (her wardrobe!) - the story opens with "Down here I have a thermocycler I bought on eBay...for 59 bucks....the rest is just home brew". Eppendork's mouth may have dropped open when she read on further in the article about people "tinkering" with DNA as their hobby.

Figure 1: My face may have looked a bit like this

Now I realise everyone needs a hobby but it disturbs Eppendork greatly when she thinks about the hoops she has to jump through for her science. There are rules and regulations for a reason - bacteria are quite frankly promiscuous they don't need any help to take up any new and "interesting" genes. Who the fk is monitoring these backyard geniuses? No one - who is going to admit to tinkering with Ebola or E. coli OH157? Or Anthrax? admittedly Ebola maybe harder to get hold of but seriously what do you think you are doing?

The final straw was Ms Aull saying that she thought the warnings of danger were overblown. Ms Aull I am sure you will make a brilliant scientist - go to school get yourself an MSc or a PhD and practice your science in the lab - where science that involves GMO belongs. Eppendork's rant may now be over.

That is all.


PS: I just re read the article (Eppendork may have missed the following point about Ms Aull) - she is already a scientist a "synthetic biologist" (presumably with a PhD or similar) - should this mean she should already know better than to fiddle with GMO stuff at home? I mean this screams containment issues for me - any thoughts on this one?


Unbalanced Reaction said...

My work staying at work.

Well, of course except for the grading, which NEVER. ENDS.

Unbalanced Reaction said...

erm.... that should read "my work STAYS at work."

biopunk said...

Eppendork, I don't understand your fear. Just how easy do you think it would be for one to isolate some anthrax from the soil and then grow it in a way that it could be "released or weaponized", that is, if one didn't expose oneself to the agent during the process? These Chicken Little posts about mere possibilities have to have more substance than the usual "no, i'm scared, its bad" that is floating around the blogaspheres. Would you enlighten me?