Appropriate Technology

DIY Biosynthesis of Insulin and Thyroxine - Disaster Resilience and Personal Biotech

A twitter acquaintance asked me today about DIY thyroxine. As this acquaintance is a “collapsonomics” nerd, I took this question to be in the context of “what if the world’s supply chains freeze and I/we/my friends die?”. The question broadened to include insulin, another critical drug needed daily by those with a common condition, diabetes. That’s a fair question. After all, while one can grow food locally, and purify rainwater (when blessed by rainfall like we are in most of Europe), and tend to many other necessities of life locally in a total infrastructural breakdown scenario, pharmaceuticals are one of the few things that we can’t DIY easily.

The OLPC Dream Fails

The One Laptop Per Child project aimed to design an open computing platform that could affordably bring computing to poor nations worldwide where it was most relevant, by providing children with laptops charitably for their education. The laptop would be small, obviously designed (to discourage theft or resale), friendly and intuitive, would educate children in the use of technologies which will be essential to their country’s development in the near future, and, critically, it would cost less than $100.