DIY biohacking in the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe has a feature on DIY biohacking, including folks like Mackenzie Cowell and his friends are doing DNA analysis and the like at home using scavenged gear. Of course, this isn't new — BB guestblogger Steve Steinberg and others were having similar fun at least 5 years ago — but the price-of-entry is certainly dropping. Meanwhile, law enforcement is getting increasingly suspicious of DIY scientists. From the Boston Globe:

The clash between the potential benefits and dangers of doing home science were highlighted by the case of Victor Deeb. The retired 71-year-old chemist in Marlborough saw his basement lab dismantled by authorities this summer after it was noticed by fire officials putting out a second-floor air conditioner fire.

The state DEP said officials intervened in Deeb's workspace because it did not meet lab standards. Chemical companies shipping Deeb their materials were unaware that they were shipping to a residence, authorities said.

Deeb, who said he was trying to make safer surface coatings for food containers, insists that the chemicals he was using were less hazardous than common cleaners and household chemicals. He questions why his hobby was seen as more dangerous than, for example, a hunter with a gun collection, or a person using a propane grill.

"The more I tried to explain, the more they thought I was a lunatic," Deeb said, questioning why he should need permits to tinker in his basement.

"As Synthetic Biology Becomes Affordable, Amateur Labs Thrive" (Thanks, Mathias Crawford!)

Previously on BB:

Charges against (biohacker) artist Steve Kurtz thrown out