NanoBio 2007 Day One Speaker: Jason McCoy

Jason McCoy is the Vice President of Global Seawater, Inc., a for-profit firm. They are developing a globalized system for agriculture and aquaculture in order to provide immediate and long lasting planetary ecological balance.

The lecture presented today was called “Greening the Deserts of Earth”. The firm explores many biotechnology approaches to global concerns. They believe that there are many serious environmental concerns that will become more dire over the course of the century which include but are not limited to global warming and sea level rising. McCoy and his group believe these problems will be solvable by future technologies that will help make the world a better place for everyone.

McCoy said that based on scientific evidence, humans have in fact had an impact on warming of the earth and other environmental challenges that we will face in the near future, but he was not sure exactly what impact we have had. He discussed the projection of sea level rise in the next few years to 2100. There are many challenges that this will present, including environmental concerns, available water sources, corrosion, population, sustainable food production, energy, and deforestation. “Wars of the future will be fought over water,” and not over fuel sources, McCoy stated.

McCoy proposes an Integrated Seawater System (ISS) that requires seawater, desert coasts, and sunlight. Almost every country in the world can fit these requirements. ISS has three components itself: aquaculture, agriculture, and forestry/wetlands. The agriculture component specifically pertains to plants known as halophytes that like water of high salinity and can double as food and fuel sources while reducing the human carbon footprint. Mangroves in particular fit the bill for an alternative sustainable approach to agriculture. The integration of ISS into national infrastructure would make the “reliance on fresh water no longer the threat that it has always been. It gives the world a new agriculture, new food sources, and a new site specific wealth generation tool.”

This project has been tested in a 1000 hectare integrated seawater system in Massawa, Eritrea. This country is one of the poorest and youngest in Africa. In 2003 the project in Massawa was closed due to political instability, but the project continues to be tested for viability in Northern Sonora. Unfortunately, McCoy said, the places that are most in need of these new technologies are the ones that are most likely to abuse monetarily the outcomes.

Key benefits of ISS:

  • Greening the deserts by transforming them into wetlands and forests.
  • Reducing the impact of Global Warming in a relatively short time period
  • Economic development

The firm produces SeaForest BioDiesel as well. The idea is to shift fuel production to a “more sustainable, renewable approach to avoid an increase in global food prices for individuals in poor developing nations.” The production of this fuel does not compete with food production (corn, soy) for water as they use only salt water.

Biotechnology Applications:

  • Hybrid cultivators to drastically enhance product yields
  • Molecular marker assisted selections
  • Gene knock-down
  • Gene transfer

Future Implications:

  • Economic Development
  • Energy Security
  • BioTech and IP
  • Environmental Impact
  • Sustainable Business Models
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