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New: Conference on LBNL Plans for Synthetic Biology Tonight at Berkeley's Brower Center

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday March 29, 2012 - 10:39:00 AM

A conference will take place tonight in Berkeley on the the billion-dollar-plus academic/industrial complex planned by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the Richmond shoreline. 

The issues are vital, and the potential consequences are global. 

Here’s the announcement for the public session, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Tamalpais Room of the David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way at Oxford Street: 

The University of California, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and the Department of Energy plan to build a high profile, billion-dollar-plus laboratory complex in the East Bay. While public pronouncements tell us the lab will focus on ‘green’ energy research, the truth is more complicated. 

A primary focus of the new lab will be synthetic biology: an extreme form of genetic engineering that creates self-replicating artificial life forms from synthesized DNA. The development of these high-risk genetic technologies is largely driven by the oil, chemical, agribusiness, and pharmaceutical industries, the military, and other federal agencies, in a rapid, high-profit commercial race. But the risks synthetic biology poses to worker safety, public health, social justice, and the environment are poorly understood, and lack adequate oversight, transparency or protections. 

Join us for presentations and public dialogue on the expansion of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the dangers of synthetic biology, and the local and global implications of this controversial industry. 

Presenters include: 

• Nnimmo Bassey, Right Livelihood Award Winner (the Alternative Nobel Prize) (Nigeria) 

• Maria José Guazzelli, Center for Ecological Agriculture (Brazil) 

• Steve Zeltzer, California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day 

• Becky McClain, Injured Workers National Network 

• Jeremy Gruber, President, Council for Responsible Genetics 

• Jim Thomas, ETC Group 

• Jeff Conant, Global Justice Ecology Project 

• Dr. Henry Clark, West County Toxics Coalition 

• Eric Hoffman, Friends of the Earth 

Moderated by Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director, International Center for Technology Assessment.