Venter Institute designs new synthetic biology bacterial cell: Synthia 3.0
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday the Craig Venter Institute announced the creation of a synthetic biology “minimal cell,” a bacterial cell with the fewest number of genes needed to survive and self-replicate.
Friends of the Earth Food and Technology campaigner Dana Perls offered the following statement in response:
Biology is not a predictable engineering discipline; living organisms like bacteria are not machines to be rewired. Not even scientists working in this field fully understand the biological function of 149 of the genes used in the “minimal cell,” which raises safety concerns. If we don’t fully understand the science, it is more difficult to predict and manage biosafety concerns. This research needs to be treated as high security, with precaution as the guiding principle to the research.
Friends of the Earth advocates for federal regulations specific to synthetic biology that have precaution at the core — ones that ensure thorough safety assessments specific to potential impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, and people. Without regulations, monitoring, and assessments tailored to these emerging technologies, we may be creating more biosafety risks than we are resolving.