In a triumph for the fight against the commodification of the global commons, the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity has voted to formally recommend nation states to regulate Synthetic Biology (SynBio).
SynBio is a powerful new form of genetic engineering through which biologists are capable of turning living organisms into man-made factories through the manipulation of their genomes. Organisms created using SynBio are increasingly looked at as private property, since they have supposedly been created through human ingenuity. The result is a potentially sweeping privatization of existing life forms, as well as the creation of all sorts of new creatures who will be the hapless property of global agribusiness and pharmaceutical companies.
The vote by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity is an important step in signalling that such Frankenstein-like acts must be regulated and subjected to strict ethical standards.
As this report by SynBio Watch notes, the vote at the UN meeting was resisted fiercely by nations with significant SynBio industries. This is, no doubt, one of many battles to come in the effort to challenge SynBio’s enclosure of the global genetic commons.