I've been thinking, and blogging, thoughts on the practical challenges for organizing a farming-based hackerspace community. Right now we're all still brainstorming ideas as to how this could work. Hopefully in a few years we could make it a reality. We're really still in early planning stages, I just wanted to show your that writeup.


  1. Go for it! Sounds a bit like Deep Springs? Scientist cowboys

  2. Would genetic modification of crops be standard or prohibited?

  3. We already have a lot of biodiversity from which to draw. It might be more interesting to see what can be done with existing natural species, in terms of rotating and interspersing crops, and managing the soil to give good yields. That said, basically every major food crop is genetically engineered, either through centuries of controlled breeding or more recent techniques. I'd love to have a garage based genetic engineering setup. Is it legal for hackerspaces to work with recombinant DNA ? Is it legal to release engineered life-forms into the environment ?

  4. E’s right, almost every, if not all major food crop has been genetically engineered (whether through selective breeding or actual modification is another story). i personally would like to grow heirloom varieties - theyre weirder looking and have interesting tastes.

    the question of legality and engineering crops tends to lie in crop patents - whether or not youre allowed to usually depends on if youre violating someones copyright. one of my professors in school, Rich Pell, is an artist who is currently doing work with genetically altered species. (his website - postnatural.org) anyway, i think its fine to play with, but i dont know about releasing them -

    there are probably regulations, but i dont think they work very well.
    i guess the bigger worry is screwing up biodiversity...

  5. Hmm... prettymuch the every disaster scenario I can imagine involving genetically engineered crops looks exactly like what happens when you introduce invasive species. Kudzu ? yeah, thats basically a mutant science terror vine. I feel that the risk of engineered crop release could be effectively managed in some sort regulation preventing "release of novel species into an un-managed environment without prior study of the effects". Really, the release of invasive species is just another one of those industrial externalities ( or an externality of exotic pet ownership ). Anyway, in conlusion, GE crops have risks, but they look a lot like old risks from playing with new, foreign crops. I'd be a fan of domesticating new species that we currently consider weeds, just to see what could be done.