Those wrestling with the risks and social implications of nanotechnologies over the past few years may have a new area in which to apply their expertise – Synthetic Biology.
A new report by the Sloan Foundation may be the trigger for many of the groups critical of nanotechnologies to jump on the Life 2.0 bandwagon – an area far closer to their happy hunting grounds in the Biotech industry, and if this Economist article is anything to go by, far more feasible than the worries about grey or green goo and the Star Trek fantasies of the transhumanists.
Of course synthetic biology is just the tip of the iceberg. As we have a growing convergence between bio, nano and IT, our understanding of both biological systems and their interaction with the rest of the world will proceed at an ever accelerating rate, which may keep ethicists increasingly busy.
The Sloan report highlights another issue as it has been commissioned by some of the leading scientists in the synthetic biology community well in adavance of any public outcry, so perhaps the lessons of both GMO’s and nanotech are being learned.
We have to agree with the Economist’s conclusion that “synthetic biology needs to be monitored, but not stifled,” and if so, will it be another ‘trillion dollar industry?”