Falling costs and garage tinkering are creating a grass roots movement of amateur biologists whose research is more transparent than that of government researchers or academia. “I isolated chickpea DNA using non-iodized salt, shampoo, meat tenderizer, and a salad-spinner for a centrifuge,” says one…
And while building lab equipment using common household items and even synthesizing new organisms, their grass roots ethic allows the social pressure which creates a more ethical research. They’re not only forming co-ops for large lab equipment, but also debating important issues. (Would it be ethical to release a homegrown symbiote that cures scurvy in hundreds of thousands of people?)
This movement could someday lead to remedies for disease, fuel-generating microbes, or a social-networked disease-tracking epidemiology. “In much the same way that homebrew computer science built the world we live in today, garage biology can affect the future we make for ourselves,” argues h+ magazine, which featured the article in their summer issue. And one amateur biologist has a great response to concerns about dangerous new organisms being accidentally released into the wild without the benefit of evolution.
“I have a mental image of germ-size MIT nerds putting on gangsta clothes and venturing into alleys to try some rough stuff. And then they meet up with the homies who’ve been keeping it real for a billion years or so.”