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Bioprospecting or biopiracy?
January 11, 2010 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Although banned in 1997, the last several years, Bioprospecting at Yellowstone National Park has become more and more privatized. Research at nearby Montana State University has been underway, using virus cages for next generation flash drives, using fungus to turn straw into olive oil, and algae to turn garbage into hydrogen.
posted by agent of bad karma (9 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
using fungus to turn straw into olive oil

Errr, if its not from olives....then its not OLIVE oil.

I'd rather turn complex carbs (straw) into protein (mushroom fruit bodies) before I worry about 'oil' - but that's me wanting to eat.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:22 AM on January 11, 2010


Not to be disparaging, because I think the linked Nanoletters article is cool and all, but... none of the authors seem to have any link to Montana State U.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:27 AM on January 11, 2010


Lots of Montana State University Yellowstone research videos. One of them is a episode of the PBS show "Wired Science"
posted by 445supermag at 12:13 PM on January 11, 2010


And since none of the links seem to come right out and say it, here's one of the reasons extremophiles are important. Microorganisms are great and useful self-replicating nano-machines, but they are largely incompatible with the environment of a typical chemical reaction vessel. However, there are microbes at Yellowstone that thrive in extreme heat, acidity, basicity, radiation, etc. Even if the microbe itself can't be used, its proteins have been designed for these extremes.
posted by 445supermag at 12:23 PM on January 11, 2010


Old argument, old injustice, old news.

For the record: any profits made on a biological or agricultural product should be subject to a tax whose sole use must be for the preservation of the natural habitat of that biological product. 1% sounds fair to me. How about you?
posted by clarknova at 12:27 PM on January 11, 2010


here's one of the reasons extremophiles are important. ... they are largely incompatible with the environment

If Man is gonna play Bio-engineer than its best if the resulting thing can't exist in the "normal" world.

And that is WHY the extremophiles are important,
posted by rough ashlar at 2:16 PM on January 11, 2010


If Man is gonna play Bio-engineer than its best if the resulting thing can't exist in the "normal" world.

Cheap, Fast, Safe to develop. Pick one or two.

Now watch your manager pick e.coli.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:29 PM on January 11, 2010


E. coli K-12 can't survive in the normal world. That's one of the reasons why it's so often the strain of choice.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:41 PM on January 11, 2010


any profits made on a biological or agricultural product should be subject to a tax whose sole use must be for the preservation of the natural habitat...

So that selenium leaching mountain decapitation mine I'm thinking about setting up is exempt? ROCK!

Personally, I think they should just let whoever run around in there and patent things like a mad man - that way, about the time someone figures out something useful to do with them, they'll be public domain.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:44 PM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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