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Synthetic Bio Debate

June 30, 2006

Those interested in truly understanding the potential bioterror dangers of the emerging field of synthetic biology should make sure they read and keep updated on the discussion surrounding the Declaration of the Second International Meeting on Synthetic Biology. In this statement, which resulted from a conference attended by some 300 researchers, lawyers, and government policy types, experts in synthetic biology spelled out realistic concerns and suggested ways to go forward.

Also worth tracking is the controversy in the synthetic biology community over a newspaper article in The Guardian that led off with the teaser: “DNA sequences from some of the most deadly pathogens known to man can be bought over the Internet, the Guardian has discovered.” A well-argued critique by Rob Carlson can be found at his website.

On Wednesday, Technologyreview.com will run a Q&A with Drew Endy, a biological engineer at MIT and leading proponent of synthetic biology, asking him about these debates and how to safely proceed with synthetic biology research.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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