The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • June 16, 2024

Texas A&M baseball sophomore RF Jace LaViolette is known for his bat — and for good reason. LaViolette ranks sixth in the country in home...

Advertisement
The Fighting Texas Aggie Band performs at halftime during Texas A&Ms football game against ULM at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.
Gridiron glory to multi-event marvel
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • June 7, 2024

Special teams: Special events  “My favorite thing about an event is seeing the people come into the stadium and seeing their excitement...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Advertisement
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024

Innovative biology

DIY+Biology
Photo by Photo by Annie Lui
DIY Biology

The past several years have seen the rapid growth of “Do-It-Yourself” synthetic biology groups, according to the Brookings Institution’s website. The Washington, D.C. based research group has reported the rise of these group in the United States and around the world, but the relative youth of this type of biology and its unregulated nature have spawned safety and ethical concerns for independent groups as well as those attending universities, such as Texas A&M.

BioRiidl, a DIYbio organization, defines Do-It-Yourself biology as “a biotechnological social movement in which individuals, communities, and small organizations study biology and life science using the same methods as traditional research institutions.”

 
Some of the safety steps taken by Texas A&M University in the biology research that is conducted were explained by Texas A&M’s director of biosafety Christine McFarland. 

“The Biosafety Program is responsible for providing training and support to faculty, staff and students to ensure compliance with all federal and institutional regulatory requirements associated with research reviewed by Texas A&M’s Institutional Biosafety Committee,” McFarland said. “The review of research must occur prior to the initiation of work that includes any use of pathogens and potential pathogens of humans, animals or plants.”

According to the Brookings Institution, since 2012, there has been a 138 percent and 266 percent increase in the number of DIYbio groups in the United States and Europe respectively. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Asia and Africa have also had smaller but still significant increases.

In 2005, Rob Carlson, former University of Washington Electrical Engineering Senior Scientist wrote a prominent Wired article titled “Splice It Yourself,” in which he discussed the emergence of what he described as “garbage biology.” According to Carlson, it would be possible to construct a fully functional genetic engineering laboratory with as little as $1,000 with purchases from eBay, the online auction and shopping website.

Later that year, Carlson constructed a laboratory in his garage from where he continued much of the work he had started at the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California. Since then, many organizations composed of citizen science enthusiasts, who experiment with similar life science methods that are used by professional scientists, have emerged, as reported in March of 2013 by The Scientist, a professional science magazine.

The movement has resulted in various developments from new techniques for biomedical imaging to innovative genetic engineering solutions, which is a new concept for many, including students.

“I think it is kinda cool how you don’t have to necessarily be a professional scientist to do some of these things,” computer science senior Troy Edwards said.”It is kinda like how Bill Gates came up with a computer in his garage like how a lot of hackers don’t have any formal training.”

As the movement has grown, the issue of safety and ethical training has arisen because many DIYbio practitioners lack the formal ethical and safety education conducted in academic institutions, according to a 2013 report by the Woodrow Wilson Intrenational Center for Scholars. DIYbio information is designed to be easily shared and accessible to a wide audience, according to the code of principles on the DiYbio.org website, a Do-It-Yourself Biology community website.

One possibility raised in a United Nations report is an unintended violation of the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention, since the open-source nature of the information makes it readily available to terrorists and other non-state actors.

The environmental effects of DIYbio are also a matter of controversy, with groups such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity cautioning, in a March 2015 report, the implications of synthetic biology on biodiversity and small-scale agriculture.

In Europe, the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety of Germany, in a press release, has gone as far as to completely ban DIY synthetic biology outside specified facilities.

According to the website O’Reilly BioCoder, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been monitoring DIYbio groups since 2009. The Food and Drug Administration proposed new regulations this year that establish a long process for approval of synthetic organisms.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *