May 20, 2010

GMRI is getting into marine genetic engineering - right at the Maine shore!

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute says it plans to do some gene hacking in order to:
"...enable and promote innovation in marine diversification in the Gulf of Maine." 

 See part 2 of their advertisement below. But beyond the rather obvious fact that marine gene splicing should be done well away from the ocean - say the midwest or the desert regions - the last time this was tried  in Maine it too was just a storm drain away from the Gulf of Maine.  That time, the plan was to hack the genes of seaweeds, adding a toxin to the algae that would inhibit "bio-fouling" on  farmed algae.  Biofouling is the accumulation of marine organisms onto receptive surfaces under water. A boat hull covered with barnacles has been biofouled.

The problem with adding that anti biofouling gene  to a living algae is that when (not IF) it escapes, it may outcompete the natural seaweeds that don't exude poison and that do nurture wild marine nature.  

Replacing seaweeds that nurture with seaweeds that KILL would play havoc with the oceanic ecosystem. 

But with the hubris of money and backed by a potent public relations effort, the GOMRI-ites will tell you that they will never never ever spill any of their mutants into the ocean that is only a few feet from their lab.  Read their advert below.

Community Research Intern
Posting Date:  May 7, 2010
As the GOClosing Date:  May 20, 2010

Community Research Intern Position Available June to December, 2010
Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 350 Commercial St., Portland, ME 04101
Contact: Jonathan Labaree
Sector Initiative Program Manager 207/228-1630 -
GMRIs Community Department seeks a full-time temporary intern from June to December, 2010, to conduct research supporting two projects:
1) GMRI provides technical assistance to 14 of the 17 groundfish sectors operating in New Englands waters. 
2) GMRI is developing a program to enable and promote innovation in marine diversification in the Gulf of Maine. The initial phase of this project will be a comprehensive analysis of innovative uses of marine resources from around the world in an effort to identify key opportunities of the Gulf of Maine. The intern will assist the Director of Community Initiatives by collecting and analyzing data on marine innovation and its applicability to our region. The programs goal is to facilitate the development of new niche marine markets in renewable energy, bio-environmental monitoring, water management, marine biotech/pharma and functional foods.

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