Monday, October 08, 2007

DNA Researcher Craig Venter creates synthetic chomosome, evokes terror

I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer | Science | The Guardian:

Life is no longer read-only:

"Mr Venter said he had carried out an ethical review before completing the experiment. 'We feel that this is good science,' he said. He has further heightened the controversy surrounding his potential breakthrough by applying for a patent for the synthetic bacterium.

Pat Mooney, director of a Canadian bioethics organisation, ETC group, said the move was an enormous challenge to society to debate the risks involved. 'Governments, and society in general, is way behind the ball. This is a wake-up call - what does it mean to create new life forms in a test-tube?'

He said Mr Venter was creating a 'chassis on which you could build almost anything. It could be a contribution to humanity such as new drugs or a huge threat to humanity such as bio-weapons'.

Mr Venter believes designer genomes have enormous positive potential if properly regulated. In the long-term, he hopes they could lead to alternative energy sources previously unthinkable. Bacteria could be created, he speculates, that could help mop up excessive carbon dioxide, thus contributing to the solution to global warming, or produce fuels such as butane or propane made entirely from sugar."

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