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Biotech Earth Medicine Science Technology

'Treasure Trove' In Oceans May Bring Revolutions In Medicine and Industry 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-may-bring-sea-monsters dept.
dryriver sends this excerpt from the Guardian: "Scientists have pinpointed a new treasure trove in our oceans: micro-organisms that contain millions of previously unknown genes and thousands of new families of proteins. These tiny marine wonders offer a chance to exploit a vast pool of material that could be used to create innovative medicines, industrial solvents, chemical treatments and other processes, scientists say. Researchers have already created new enzymes for treating sewage and chemicals for making soaps from material they have found in ocean organisms. 'The potential for marine biotechnology is almost infinite,' says Curtis Suttle, professor of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of British Columbia. 'It has become clear that most of the biological and genetic diversity on Earth is – by far – tied up in marine ecosystems, and in particular in their microbial components. By weight, more than 95% of all living organisms found in the oceans are microbial. This is an incredible resource.'"
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'Treasure Trove' In Oceans May Bring Revolutions In Medicine and Industry

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  • Re:Almost infinite? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe&jwsmythe,com> on Saturday November 10, 2012 @09:44PM (#41946879) Homepage Journal

        It means that we'll farm it to the edge of extinction, and then ponder what happened to them all... Kinda like...

    Hunting whales for blubber, and then wondering why there whales are almost extinct. [stanford.edu]

    Using pesticide on virtually everything, and then wondering why bees are dying off. [nbcnews.com]

    Farming marginally arid land, and being surprised by the result. [wikipedia.org]

    I'm not an environmentalist wingnut. Sometimes the answer to "what could possibly go wrong" is really obvious.

  • Re:Almost infinite? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dbIII (701233) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @10:59PM (#41947165)

    The problem is unknown in Australia, where pesticides are just as heavily used as anywhere else

    Pesticides have been expensive in Australia due to few suppliers having close to a monopoly so they might be used less than some other places, plus there were some deaths from overexposure decades ago that got a lot of press and seem to have had farm workers take care with concentrations ever since. There is also a lot of uncleared land so pesticide use may be in "islands" surrounded by the whole instead of the other way around in as in other places more intensively farmed.

    Also, what would be called "organic" in some places is the norm for some things in Australia since the plant that comes from overseas may not have a local pest. For some things, a physical barrier (tunnel houses or bags around bananas) does the job without pesticides but that is relatively recent and may be part of chasing after an "organic" label and not widespread.

    However there are some places in Australia where pesticides have been used a lot but there are still plenty of bees, so even if pesticides are used less on average in Australia than other places it still doesn't tell us anything about the bees.

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