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Evaluating Synthetic Biology
As novel scientific achievements such as recombinant DNA technology, stem cells, and most recently, synthetic biology, exit the lab and merge with the outside world, fear has followed them. This fear factor has influenced public perception of most novel scientific endeavors. There are indeed organizations to assess risk and monitor potential hazards associated with biotechnologies. Yet, as recently as March 13, a group of 111 watchdog organizations including ETC Group and Friends of the Earth issued a report calling synthetic biology “an extreme form of genetic engineering” and asking for a moratorium on the release and commercial use of synthetic organisms and their products. Which side do you lie on?