BBC, 11 July 2013
Will the emerging science of designing and engineering new forms of life receive the same hostile reception as genetically modified food and crops?
This is the question facing the growing community of academic and commercial researchers exploring the potential of synthetic biology.
For those pioneering this new field, the science offers a whole realm of exhilarating possibilities – dreaming up and building new organisms that will perform exactly what’s ordered. It is a vision for taking control of nature.
Synthetic biology is a dimension beyond genetic modification.
While GM involves taking genes from one organism and inserting them in another, synthetic biology involves designing and creating artificial genes and implanting them instead – not just borrowing from the natural world but rewriting it or even reinventing it.
I used virtual reality to try to explain it last year.
At a major conference this week in London – the BioBricks Foundation SB6.0 – excited talk suggested that synthetic biology could become the next big thing in everything from energy to medicines to industry.