Brewing Bad

A new technology that will make it feasible to brew genetically modified yeast to create morphine is raising concerns that the process may be more useful to heroin producers than the pharmaceutical industry.

In a commentary in the journal Nature, Kenneth A. Oye, professor of engineering and politics at MIT, and others argue that access to the bioengineered yeast strains should be tightly controlled and regulated to prevent drug cartels putting in place a “one-pot glucose-to-morphine stream.”

Some scientists, however, including Cynthia D. Smolke, a Stanford researcher working to refine the technology, contend that such statements from Oye and his like-minded colleagues are needlessly inflammatory and lead to “freaked out” reactions.

The New York Times

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