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Synthetic Biology is the engineering of biological components and systems that do not exist in nature and the re-engineering of existing biological elements; it is determined on the intentional design of artificial biological systems, rather than on the understanding of natural biology.
Definition from: Synbiology (2005) SYNBIOLOGY, An analysis of Synthetic biology research in Europe and North America European Comission Framework Programme 6 reference contract 15357 (NEST), October, 2005.
Centers, Initiatives, and Projects looking at the Ethics of Synthetic Biology
Synthetic Biology Project
The Synthetic Biology Project was established as an initiative of the Foresight & Governance Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Project aims to foster informed public and policy discourse concerning the advancement of synthetic biology.
This site is developed and maintained by scientists working in the field of synthetic biology in labs and universities around the world who are committed to engineering biology in an open and ethical manor. The site includes a good introduction the field of synthetic biology, related news, and links to upcoming conferences and events.
Ethical Issues in Synthetic Biology
A projected undertaken by the Hastings Center in 2009. Includes presentations, expert testimony given to Congress, and essays on synthetic biology.
Major Ethics Reports
New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies
Published in December of 2010, this report from the U.S. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues examines the implications of the emerging science of synthetic biology and offers recommendations to ensure that America reaps the benefits of this developing field within appropriate ethical bounds.
New Genetics Recipes: Are We Cooking Up Trouble with Synthetic Biology?
Dr Thomas H Murray, President and CEO of The Hastings Center in the US, delivered the Council's 2009 public lecture on 29 April at the Royal Society in London.His talk considered a range of issues raised by this new multi-disciplinary area of research. In particular, he considered the concept of non-physical harms such as affronts to nature, and the role such harms should play in public policy.