Science and Technology Innovation Program
Environmental and Social Issues Arising from Synthetic Biology: Redesigning Life
WASHINGTON – “Synthetic biology” describes efforts to use computer-assisted, biological engineering to design, construct, and commercialize new biological building blocks or entirely new organisms , or to redesign existing biological organisms. Proponents of this “extreme genetic engineering” seek to build new life forms either from scratch – by using published gene sequence information – or by buying inexpensive, made-to-order DNA strands from so-called DNA foundries. Synthetic biologists are not just reading and rearranging genetic code, but writing it: re-engineering genes and entire genomes, in new combinations that do not exist in nature.
Invited panelists will discuss the science behind synthetic biology, the risks this emerging technology poses to the environment and human health, as well as the socio-economic issues arising from a new “bio-economy” enabled by synthetic biology.