Synthetic Biology – Further Reading

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(Handout for the Synthetic Biology seminars by Fred Bass, Oct 30, 2016)

Definition of synthetic biology: Synthetic biology goes beyond transferring genes from one organism to another (genetic engineering) to using a variety of biological and technical strategies to create new organisms and biological components that are not found in nature. It focuses on modifying DNA and related biological molecules that drive heredity and the building of bacterial, plant and animal structures. Its principal objectives are research and commercial application.

Websites that focus on social, ecological, and ethical aspects of synthetic biology

Why ordinary people are needed to help shape policy for synthetic biology:

  • Martin Rees, President, Royal Society; UK Astronomer Royal: Our Final Hour A Scientist’s Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster threaten Humankind’s Future in This Century—On Earth and Beyond. Basic Books, Perseus Books Group: 2003
  • Richard Heinberg: Cloning the Buddha; the Moral Impact of Biotechnology. The Theosophical Publishing House; Wheaton, IL US; 1999
  • Daniel Sarewitz: Science can’t solve it. Nature (2015) 522: 413-414:


Friends of the Earth, International Center for Technology Assessment, ETC Group: The Principles for the Oversight of Synthetic Biology 2013