Synthetic Biology Essay

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Synthetic biology, also known as synbio, is a new form of research that began in the year 2000. The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group) says that synthetic biology is bringing together “engineering and the life sciences in order to design and construct new biological parts, devices and systems that do not currently exist in the natural world’ (Synthetic Biology). Synthetic biology is aiming to create safer medicines, clean energy, and help the environment through synthetically engineered medicines, biofuels, and food. Because synthetic biology has only existed for fourteen years, there is controversy involving its engineering ethics. In this literature review, I am going to summarize and correlate the International Association for Synthetic Biology (IASB) Code of Conduct for Gene Synthesis, the impact of synthetic biology on people and the environment, and the philosophical debates. Nine years after synthetic biology was first practiced, the IASB finalized the Code of Conduct for Best Practices in Gene Synthesis. They said that “this event is a breakthrough in self-regulation in synthetic biology” (“Code of Conduct for Best Practices in Gene Synthesis). IASB’s code gives engineers and scientists the freedom to research organisms and genes that may hold environmental or health risks, but in a safe and secure manner. IASB addresses the possibility that synbio materials could be used inappropriately, for instance, in terrorist activities. Engineers and scientists are expected to follow previous “standards of good practice” set forth in the general engineering code of ethics and perform risk assessments of DNA sequences for genes. “Records of suspicious inquiries” and “statistics on biosecurity and bios... ... middle of paper ... ...follows the general code of ethics, but it only has one specific code of ethics for gene synthesis. This worries many people because they cannot see synthetic biologists’ ethical procedures and how these researchers would apply these rules in different situations. In time, there will be an agreed upon code of ethics for synthetic biology and this will help relieve people because they will believe that valuable, but possibly dangerous, information is less likely fall into the wrong hands and that appropriate experimenting occurs. The goal of synthetic biology is to improve medicine and protect the environment. Synthetic biologists want to cure cancer, provide new energy sources, and more sustainable foods. People’s concerns are legitimate and need to be analyzed, but until these ethical concerns and possible risks are addressed synthetic biology cannot move forward.
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