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Thursday, January 24, 2008 

Scientists Develop Synthetic Lifeform ! - Yeah that sounds bloody safe doesn't it?

A team of U.S. scientists is reporting that it has constructed the genome of a living organism for the first time. Assembling bits of lab-made DNA, researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Maryland say they have built the genetic structure of a bacterium from scratch in the lab.

The feat marks an historic, and controversial, milestone in the fledgling field known as synthetic biology. It uses chunks of synthetic DNA like Lego blocks, with an aim to creating life forms that can be genetically programmed to perform useful tasks.

Its proponents envision making micro-organisms that gobble up pollution, produce hard-to-make drugs, pump out clean energy, or, at the whimsical end, flowers designed to bloom on your birthday.

The field has raised profound ethical questions about human control of creation and its potential to produce new weapons of bio-terror. But the Venter project is also drawing criticisms of a different kind.

Bio-ethicists, and some scientists, allege the researchers have applied for such broad patents on their human-made genome that, if granted, they might give the group a monopoly on the making of all synthetic life forms – which some believe will fuel the next industrial revolution. (article continues ....)
Globe and Mail
January 24, 2008

Well, it doesn't sound dangerous, if that's what you're asking.


Lance, if a sythetic bacterium were to escape the stringent confines of the labratory it is being kept in, you have no fear that it wouldn'tinfect other organisms? What do you base your confidence in that it doesn't 'sound' dangerous?


what is so scary about this?

I don't know much about this so how would I know.

Well huff, then use this opporunity to expand your knowledge on the topic of microbial threats to human health. The human body is able to withstand many bacterium and viruses after eons of exposure. The fear in custom designed organisms is that the human body may not have the experience or exposure in past to have resistance to it.

This is very serious stuff. Lance's comment is quite shocking to me!

I know what a pandemic is Lefdog.

I can see where your coming from though , Your worried the human body is not used to these kind of organisms.


Leftdog not "Lefdog"

It could be dangerous and there's obviously a lot of potential for mischief. It could also be beneficial. We could develop organisms that could be of use to mankind.

My main concern is patenting organisms. What if down the line they patent human embryos to make "designer babies"? I can see big money being made there.

I'd be more concerned with the fact that every new technology, bio or otherwise, is almost immediately explored for its destructive qualities. In this case the classic sf trope of designing a killer biote to wipe out your enemies, with the inevitable blowback of 'oops...it's wiping us out too whodathunk?'.

The problem with 'life' as we know it is its mutability and humanity's ever constant and proven power to underestimate its boundaries. So...how safe is safe? Is it the Sandra Buckler definition of safe?

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