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Additional info for Conversations about Energy: How the Experts See America's Energy Choices
The Energy Task Force invited Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security to discuss some of the most important issues in this area. Tauscher, who for many years represented in Congress a portion of the San Francisco Bay Area that includes the National Laboratory at Livermore, has been a longtime leader in nuclear policy. The discussion was moderated by Robert Rosner, former director of the Argonne National Laboratory and a lead expert in nuclear policy. The discussant was Tom Isaacs of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford.
Venter noted that the potential new synthetic biology technologies were transformative. We have totally gone across the boundaries of life. In most bacteria, the genomes can not be easily modified, but in yeast we have a whole spectrum of tools that allow very rapid modification. So we can modify things in yeast, methylate the chromosome if necessary, and transplant it into a new bacterial cell transforming that into a new species. Venter said that his company’s researchers had designed new ‘‘software of life’’ to create new species for defined purposes.
40 ͉ CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ENERGY We have been losing technical competence and technical credibility in nuclear power for the past two decades. This is especially so, unfortunately, on the back end. We have severely constrained take-back provisions. Currently, we do not sell nuclear reactors. The folks who are selling nuclear reactors are foreign-owned companies. We are losing our technological competence on the front end, on the back end, and in the middle. How can we actually be leaders in this context?