Friday, July 02, 2010

Synthetic Biology Targeted by Bioethics Presidential Commission

Scientists created a synthetic organism earlier this year by inserting man-made DNA into a living cell--now a presidential directive may ban such techniques. Look for the ethics of synthetic biology to rock the foundations of science over the next few years. R.C.J.

Here's what the Hastings Center says: Following last May’s announcement that scientists had created a self-replicating cell containing an entirely synthetic genome, President Obama asked the Bioethics Commission to study the implications of this technology. He asked the Commission to issue a report within six months and to recommend any actions it thinks the federal government should take to maximize benefits and minimize risks associated with this technology, while identifying appropriate ethical boundaries....Synthetic biology is the topic of the first meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, which will be held on July 8-9 in Washington, D.C. Gregory Kaebnick, PhD, will be one of the speakers. Kaebnick, a research scholar at The Hastings Center and editor of the Hastings Center Report, is also managing the Center’s two-year project on ethical issues in synthetic biology, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
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