June 2009 Archives

It sounds as though there was a good crowd who took part in the extended discusssion sessions for the latest Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) survey on attitudes to synthetic biology:

"...but you don't know where these things will end up...maybe creating babies...in two weeks..."

"There are nicer ways to create babies."

"Not at my age!"

Exchange between female participant in her fifties and an observer.

Intriguingly, the participants felt that totally artificial organisms would be safer or better than modifying existing creatures, which is a bit of a problem for just about any synthetic biology programme underway right now. The core reason seemed to be the feeling that totally artificial organisms would be easier to control. Although this smacks of Jurassic Park at work, it's easy how people might see modified organisms as more problematic based on earlier bioremediation plans going awry - such as the introduction of cane toads to Australia.

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