Bioprospecting on Access Utah Friday

Nov 9, 2012

Utah is the only state in the U.S. to enact a law that requires someone who is engaged in bioprospecting to notify the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands before removing certain microorganisms, plants, or fungi from state lands. Bioprospecting is the search for and collection of biological material, usually microbes, that could prove either economically useful or in environmental protection efforts. For example if extreme algae in the Great Salt Lake can make a biofuel without impacting the ecosystem it can be harnessed in the laboratory. Since research may turn those algae into a profitable fuel, the law leaves the groundwork for Utah to benefit from profits made off the research.

Westminster College's Great Salt Lake Institute helped draft the legislation. Bonnie Baxter, director of the Institute, joins us on Access Utah to discuss this law.

On Science Questions: Downwinders. There isn't anyone in the U.S. who isn't a downwinder. In collaboration with local artists, Utah state history, and City Academy Charter School, Higher Ground Learning,a creative learning center for youth and 5 teenagers, explored nuclear testing, power and waste from their classroom and from their camp-out in the Utah West Desert, one of the areas hardest hit by the nuclear fall-out.