Genetically Engineered Algae for Biofuel Pose Potential RisksSubmitted by Chris Souptonutski on Wed, 05/29/2013 - 19:13
A critical baseline concern is whether genetically engineered algae would be able to survive in the wild, said Allison Snow, professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University and lead author of the paper.
"If they're grown in big, open ponds, which is mainly what were talking about, could the newer types of microalgae get out into nature and mingle? We need to know if they can survive and whether they can hybridize or evolve to become more prolific when they get out of a controlled environment," Snow said.
"If they can survive, we also need to know whether some types of genetically engineered blue-green algae, for example, could produce toxins or harmful algal blooms -- or both," Snow noted.
And then there's this:
Are Genetically Modified Algae a Threat?
...Sapphire Energy, which signed a multi-year research agreement with the GM-giant Monsanto earlier this month, says its algae – of which it has created thousands of new strains – are designed to be uncompetitive with wild strains. Like a domesticated animal released into the wild, Sapphire says its algae will be unequipped to live outside a controlled environment.
Reasearchers at Synthetic Genomics, led by the famous biologist Craig Venter and funded heavily by Exxon, have alluded to the creation of a “suicide” gene that will kill an alga if it escapes to the lab. However, the company says it is not currently developing the trait.
And the Israeli company TransAlgae is creating algae with traits that paralyze them in the wild – like taking away their ability to swim or absorb CO2 in certain environments. The company also says it's developing a self-destructing gene...