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IPFS News Link • Agriculture

Bayer's Modified Soil Microbes Could Trigger a Genetically Engineered Doomsday

•, Alexis Basen-Mayer

Bayer and its partner Ginkgo Bioworks say they're going to replace some agrochemicals for genetically engineered soil microbes. Ginkgo Bioworks has received $15 billion in investment to develop a platform to automate the genetic engineering of thousands of microbes at once.
Ginkgo Bioworks wrote in its SEC filing that the full effects of the release of their genetically engineered organisms may be unknown. Ginko Bioworks further stated: "We could synthesize DNA sequences or engage in other activity that contravenes biosecurity requirements, or regulatory authorities could promulgate more far-reaching biosecurity requirements that our standard business practices cannot accommodate…" The company added that they could not guarantee that they could prevent third parties from obtaining their engineered cells or other biomaterials for malevolent purposes.

You don't have to take our word for it, just read Ginkgo's own report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It's like a sci-fi writer's brainstorm of plots for a disaster movie:

"The release of genetically modified organisms or materials, whether inadvertent or purposeful, into uncontrolled environments could have unintended consequences …

The genetically engineered organisms and materials that we develop may have significantly altered characteristics compared to those found in the wild, and the full effects of deployment or release of our genetically engineered organisms and materials into uncontrolled environments may be unknown.

In particular, such deployment or release, including an unauthorized release, could impact the environment or community generally or the health and safety of our employees, our customers' employees, and the consumers of our customers' products.

In addition, if a high profile biosecurity breach or unauthorized release of a biological agent occurs within our industry, our customers and potential customers may lose trust in the security of the laboratory environments in which we produce genetically modified organisms and materials, even if we are not directly affected.