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Algae biofuel development denounced

Pressure group Friends of the Earth has declared war on the development of new strains of algae and bacteria to produce biofuels.

The group released a report last week warning of the dangers that genetically-modified microbes could pose if released into nature.

With warnings of  devastating results  if organisms escape into the oceans, including formation of  large dead zones, Friends of the Earth demanded a moratorium on work to produce synthetic algae strains.

The group suggested that based on the previous spread of genetically-modified crops in the environment, the public health could be at risk.

Friends of the Earth also cast doubt on the efficiency of producing biofuels from algae.

Friends of the Earth Biotechnology Policy Campaigner Eric Hoffman said: ?Synthetic microbes have no natural predators, and if they escape they may disrupt ecosystems and harm public health.S Our report concludes that the federal government should put a complete moratorium on the release and commercial use of synthetic organisms.

All possible implications of this synthetic biology research, including environmental, economic, social, and public health risks, must be reviewed by regulators.

"In addition, we have found that despite the industry's claims, synthetic biofuels will not be a solution to the climate crisis. Any efficiency gains in the production process are likely to be offset by the fact that synthetic biology would lead to more materials being turned into biofuels. This would increase   the environmental damage?including deforestation and emissions of heat-trapping gases?and social ills caused by biofuel crop cultivation," Mr Hoffman added.

Friends of the Earth's report pours scorn on those who see biotechnology as a cure-all for climate change, and also for the hundreds of millions being spent by oil companies on dangerous and unproven algae research that it suggested diverts funds from clean technologies like wind, solar and efficiency projects.

The report highlights open-air algae farms as a particular threat, and doesn?t reserve its criticisms for algae ? synthetic enzymes, bacteria and yeasts could also be dangerous, it suggests.

"Synthetic biology for biofuels production is a false solution to our climate crisis. The risks are too great and their promises are too illusory to be a worthy investment, "the report concludes.
Tue October 12 2010 02:21:54 PM by Monterio Friends of earth  |  genetically modified algae  |  genetically modified crop 1604 views
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