On September 11, I had the great pleasure of attending a public conversation with one of my heroes, Dr. Vandana Shiva, at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley. Shiva is a highly respected Indian physicist and activist who has for decades been speaking truth to power with an eloquence and moral courage that I only wish more global leaders would aspire to attain. Shiva is a particularly vocal critic of synthetic biology -- the design and construction of artificial biological organisms or the redesign of existing natural biological systems -- and biotechnology, any technological application that uses biological systems to make or modify products or processes for specific use.
Shiva was in conversation with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation, a justice and ecology project. Dayaneni and Shiva discussed the controversial hype and hope surrounding the escalating use of biotechnology. They were specifically calling out the pitfalls of projects like the East Bay “Green Corridor” – whose mission is to “create a thriving region of green technology innovation, commercialization and economic development that generates high quality jobs and meets environmental and social goals.” Founding partners of the project include UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.