News of the WeekBioethics

U.S. Panel Weighs Guidelines for Synthetic Biology

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Science  16 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5989, pp. 264-265
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5989.264-b

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Last week, the United States began the highest review to date—in the president's bioethics commission—of problems that could come out of the young field of synthetic biology. Some scientists who spoke at the meeting in Washington, D.C., on 8 to 9 July warned that the growing ease of manipulating DNA in living organisms could spawn new pathogens and ramp up the risks of bioterrorism. Close oversight is needed, they said; others worried that new rules could stifle research. The commission will take a "deep dive" into the subject before coming back with advice by the end of this year, said the panel's co-chair.