AIHce Keynoter Sees Challenging New World

“How we make things, where we make things, is about to change in a very fundamental way,” and industrial hygienists can ensure the risks are effectively managed, Juan Enriquez said June 18.

INDIANAPOLIS -– The opening keynote speaker at this year’s AIHce conference spoke quietly and didn’t say much of anything about industrial hygiene until the end of his talk, but he kept his audience spellbound nonetheless. Juan Enruiquez, co-founder of Synthetic Genomics Inc. and managing director of Excel Venture Management in Boston, discussed genetic engineering and explained how it is already changing businesses around the world.

His slides included photos Enriquez took at a South American farm where cows have been cloned and genetically altered to produce a cancer-fighting chemical in their milk.

Enriquez cited another researcher who has mapped the activity in a mouse’s brain by introducing the genetic code that causes fireflies to light up. He has mapped the neural pathways activated when a mouse smells, eats, or moves one of its legs; the researcher has cured PTSD in a mouse using this method, and it may be useful for curing PTSD in human beings, Enriquez said.

Where digital code once spread throughout the world, transforming businesses and creating new industries, life code is now spreading similarly and will produce the same results, he predicted.

“How we make things, where we make things, is about to change in a very fundamental way,” he said. “Not only is this changing every business in this room; it’s the only [viable engine] for job creation.”

“On the whole, it’s one of the greatest adventures man has ever been on,” he said. “We are living in a renaissance where we are going to be able to generate wealth . . . on a scale the world has never known.” He urged the listening industrial hygienists to put their expertise to good use and said they have a key role to play, saying, “We’re going to have to get the safety and scale-up of this right.”

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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