About This Episode
What does the future look like using biotechnology? And is it a future we want? We discuss and debate these questions and more on a special StarTalk All-Stars panel taped live at Worlds Fair Nano in New York City, featuring astrobiologist and host David Grinspoon, Eureka! Science Comedy podcast host Allen Saakyan, comic co-host Harrison Greenbaum, and Randal J. Kirk, CEO of Intrexon. You’ll hear how biotechnology has existed since the beginning of modern civilization, the trial and error process of early genetic engineers, how the technology today like CRISPR allows for better, more precise gene editing, and how every human shares the same DNA “software.” You’ll also hear about some new developments like the Arctic® apple – an apple that doesn’t brown – and the possibility of creating synthetic meat with fermentation. Explore why GMO technology is not to be feared, and how genetic engineering will be able to help feed our growing population by keeping our food supply sustainable. You’ll also learn how the Lactococcus lactis microorganism, used for thousands of years in food preparation such as cheese, can be genetically engineered for more effective and affordable treatment of various diseases and conditions. Discover how humans have been genetically engineering our biosphere for over 12,000 years and investigate the idea behind “gene drives” to stop mosquitos from spreading malaria, and whether soon it may be possible to rid the world of human disease. All that, plus, our panel discusses how an engaged citizenry keeps biotechnology companies honest, and why biotechnology companies need to be responsible when developing and introducing new technologies of any kind. Finally, we ponder whether to be optimistic about the future, and if there’s an answer yet to the age old human question: why are we here?
NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: StarTalk All-Stars at Worlds Fair Nano: The Future of Bio-Technology.